Reform of contract law in Belgium
The new Book 5 of the Civil Code will enter into force on 1 January 2023 and contains legal provisions on general Belgian contract law. It is a legal development which will not go unnoticed, and which will have a significant impact on contractual relationships and obligations.
As part of a more general modernisation of civil law, the Belgian Parliament adopted the new Book 5 of the Civil Code containing the legal provisions on general Belgian contract law.
Book 5 will apply to contracts entered into as of 1 January 2023. The “old” contract law shall continue to apply to any agreements entered into before such time, unless parties prefer to submit them as well to the new provisions. The “old” and “new” contract law will as such co-exist for some time and seemingly identical contractual relationships may have different effects as a result.
Book 5 reflects the legislator’s aim to increase legal certainty by codifying important principles of Belgian contract law developed over the years by case law and legal doctrine. At the same time, Belgian contract law is modernized by the legislative recognition of certain legal principles aiming at protecting weaker parties.
While contractual freedom and the rule that agreements must be kept ("pacta sunt servanda") remain cornerstones of Belgian contract law, Book 5 includes some limitations to such freedom or its negative effects, if deemed excessive, and introduces certain novelties.
On this page we will publish topical articles on noteworthy changes of Belgian contract law, and their impact to specific sectors.
Hardship in Book 5 of the new Belgian Civil Code
12-12-2022Introduction of a general theory of restitution following breach of contractCurrently, there is no uniform regime of restitution following the extinction ex tunc of the contract. The legislator therefore decided to establish a general theory of restitution by adopting Articles 5.115 to 5.124 of the new Civil Code.