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24 December 2020 / news

Belgium imposes second temporary statutory moratorium on creditors’ rights

During this second wave of COVID, new lock-down measures have been taken. Belgium has already provided for numerous measures to mitigate the economic impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19). In addition, the Belgian authorities have again adopted a statutory moratorium imposing a stay on creditors’ right to enforce debts, terminate existing agreements early and initiate bankruptcy proceedings. Unlike the first moratorium decided upon in March 2020 (which was in place until mid-June 2020), the new restrictions only apply with respect to companies that have been forced to close their business as a result of the second lock-down.

Temporary statutory moratorium on creditors rights

The specific measures taken by the federal government are bundled in the Law dated 20 December 2020 (the Law) and include a statutory moratorium from 24 December 2020 to (and including) 31 January 2021 for businesses that are or were forced to close according the Ministerial Decree of 1 November 2020, pursuant to which:

  • a business affected by the coronavirus crisis cannot be declared bankrupt or, if it is a legal entity, be dissolved by a court nor can a transfer of the whole or part of its activities be forced unless (i) on the initiative of the public prosecution or a temporary director (voorlopig bewindvoerder/administrateur provisoire), or (ii) with the business’ prior consent;
  • no protective or executory attachment may be granted, and no means of enforcement, including enforcement of security interests, may be taken or continued on certain assets of the business;
  • agreements concluded by the business before 24 December 2020 cannot be terminated unilaterally or by the courts on the grounds of non-payment of a monetary debt due and payable under the agreement. An exception is made for employment contracts; and
  • payment periods included in a homologated judicial reorganisation plan approved before or after 24 December 2020, are extended by the duration of the suspension with a corresponding extension of the maximum period of five years for the implementation of the reorganisation plan.

By taking these measures, the Belgian federal government sends a strong message to the Belgian business community affected by the second lock-down restrictions, providing additional breathing space for businesses in difficulties related to the coronavirus crisis and discouraging creditors from taking aggressive action against their debtors during the crisis.

The above measures will end automatically at midnight on 31 January 2021, unless further extended by the federal government.

Below are a number of questions and answers relating to the Law which look at some specific aspects in detail.

 



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