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The effects of the COVID-19 outbreak leave many Belgian enterprises in financial distress, or even, for some of them, at risk of insolvency. In order to help these enterprises navigate the crisis and prevent them from going bankrupt, the Belgian Government implemented a moratorium on insolvency and enforcement proceedings.
Any enterprise (e.g. any legal person) whose continuity is threatened due to the COVID-19 outbreak and which was not in cessation of payments on 18 March 2020 may benefit from this moratorium.
Subject to limited exceptions, any debtor is protected from:
- conservatory and executory attachments. Please note, however, that conservatory and executory attachments of immovable assets remain possible;
- duty to file for bankruptcy. The obligation to file for bankruptcy within a month as from the cessation of payments is suspended. Voluntary filings remain however possible;
- forced judicial dissolution;
- termination of contracts concluded before 24 April 2020 for non-payment of a debt due and payable during the moratorium. This does not apply to employment contracts.
These measures do not prevent the application of (i) standard contractual remedies (e.g. retention of title and set-off) nor (ii) the Law of 15 December 2004 on Financial Collateral. Obligations resulting from employment contracts are also unaffected.
Finally, in order to promote the granting of new credits to struggling businesses, the Belgian Government also adopted measures to (i) protect credits given during the moratorium period and (ii) mitigate the lenders’ liability.
In order to ensure that the moratorium does not exceed its objective and to prevent enterprises from unduly benefiting from it, any interested party can seek the (total or partial) exemption of the debtor from the provisions of the moratorium. This must be done via summary proceedings before the competent Enterprise Court.
Entry into force
The measures adopted by the Belgian Government entered into force on 24 April 2020. They will apply until 17 May 2020 and might be extended.
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