The Belgian court system is based on the civil legislation. The Belgian civil proceedings in litigation cases are conducted by codified rules, national and international rules according to European Directives and treaties Belgium has concluded with other countries.
The judicial system in Belgium is comprised of first instance courts, appellate courts, specialized courts that rule in employment and commercial litigation cases, Supreme Courts, and the Constitutional Court:
Litigation proceedings in Belgium usually start by writ of summons or by request. The next step will be the hearings and other procedures that are determined based on the hearings. In some cases introductive pleadings are allowed. The following step in a litigation matter will be to file the submissions. Usually, parties agree on the date the written submissions will be filed. Normally, the final step would be hearing all evidence and the ruling. Regular litigation proceedings in Belgium take about one year and a half, while appeal in litigation cases take between two and three years.
Other than court actions employed to resolve litigation matters in Belgium there are also alternative dispute resolution methods. The most common dispute resolution methods are arbitration and mediation. Arbitration is often used as a mean of resolving litigation cases because it is less time and money consuming. The most employed arbitration rules are the rules of the Belgian Center for Arbitration and Mediation (CEPINA/CEPANI) and the ICC (International Chamber of Commerce) Rules. The main advantage of arbitration is that parties decide on the rules to follow. In 2013 Belgium has enforced a new law on arbitration derived from the UNCITRAL Model Law.
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