In Belgium, arbitration is considered an alternative dispute resolution method. Litigation in court can be avoided if parties agree to appeal to an Arbitral Tribunal in order to resolve their differences. Arbitral tribunals in Belgium are composed of one or three persons, also called arbitrators. Arbitration in Belgium can occur in contractual or other types of relations between two or more parties. In order for arbitration to be possible both or all parties must agree through an arbitration agreement.
Arbitration in Belgium is done based on the Law of Arbitration and it follows few general rules:
The first step towards arbitration in Belgium is to make a request for arbitration. The request will contain the following:
The second step will be submitting the request and all relevant documents for the arbitration with the secretariat of CEPANI (The Belgian Center for Arbitration and Mediation). Copies of the request and all documents submitted will be distributed to the arbitrators.
The arbitration will begin once all the documents are submitted with the secretariat and the arbitration fee has been paid. The respondent will then respond to the claim and file a counterclaim.
Once the Belgian arbitration tribunal receives all relevant documents it will send to all involved parties all the written notifications and communications.
In 2013 the House of Representatives enforced a new bill, bill no. 53-2743 that would replace Part VI of the Code of Civil Procedure in Belgium (Code judiciaire/Gerechtelijk Wetboek) thus modernizing the Belgian arbitration law. This way the arbitration law resembles the UNCITRAL (United Nations Commission for International Trade Law) Model Law.
The new amendments brought to the Belgian arbitration law stipulate that both domestic and international arbitration will be equally treated, that the arbitration agreement does not necessarily need to be written in order to be valid and interim measures were accepted which means arbitral tribunals will be enforced by the Belgian court system.
Regarding the awards, the new arbitration law states that awards not stating the grounds they are based on and that violate public policies will be considered null. However, a special provision in the arbitration law of Belgium states that parties can renounce arbitral awards if they do not have a registered office, headquarters or branch offices in Belgium.
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