HOW THE CENTRAL AUTHORITY WORKS IN BELGIUM

This article will provide guidance on How The Central Authority Works in Belgium.  The Belgian judicial system is characterized by its adherence to the civil law tradition, where judges apply and interpret a set of codified rules. The responsibility for the organization of the courts in Belgium lies exclusively with the federal government. Click here to watch our introduction video.

Belgium is divided into five major judicial areas, each of which falls under the jurisdiction of a court of appeal. These courts of appeal are located in Brussels, Liege, Mons, Ghent, and Antwerp.  The areas are categorized into judicial districts, with each district having a court of first instance. The country is divided into twelve judicial districts. Click Here for Frequently Asked Questions About Process Servers!

 The districts are organized into judicial cantons, which consist of civil magistrate’s courts. There are a hundred and eighty-seven cantons in the country. Consequently, Undisputed Legal’s local process servers could help make the execution of the Hague Service Request go smoother. Our process servers are dedicated and knowledgeable about the local laws of Belgium. We aim to ensure that you have the easiest experience in international service of process. If you found this article helpful, kindly consider leaving us a review. Click the link to share your feedback, and we would greatly appreciate a five-star review.

Organisation of Courts in Belgium

There are ten provinces in Belgium, along with the Brussels Capital administrative district, each of which has an assize court known as cour d’assises/hof van assisen. The Assize Court is a court that has not been established as a permanent institution. The convening of a trial occurs when an individual accused of a crime is formally committed to stand trial before a court.

The court with jurisdiction can be determined by the nature of the dispute in certain circumstances. The jurisdiction of a civil magistrate’s court extends to handling neighborhood disputes, while the court of first instance has jurisdiction over divorce cases. The determination of the appropriate court is often contingent upon the parties’ capacity in certain instances. 

The Court of Cassation is the highest in the judicial system of many countries. It serves as the final appellate court, reviewing and deciding on appeals from lower courts. Appeal courts are judicial bodies that review decisions made by lower courts. Civil courts primarily handle legal conflicts of a private nature that arise between individuals, including both natural persons and legal entities. The primary objective of criminal courts is to administer punishment to individuals who have committed offenses that are punishable under the law. 

Belgium has two additional types of courts besides those mentioned earlier. The Council of State and the Constitutional Court have a monitoring role. The Council of State serves as a high-level administrative court responsible for overseeing and regulating the activities of the administration. The organization reviews applications submitted by individuals who believe that a government agency or administrative body has failed to comply with legal requirements.  

Undisputed Legal recognizes the complexity posed by the growth of several national and international mechanisms. But we also want our customers to be at ease, and we ensure that we thoroughly understand these legalities and their obligations. We have an established network of local process servers in Belgium and have expertise in doing so.

Understanding the central authority: the SPF Justice

The Service Public Fédéral de la Justice is a government agency responsible for the administration of justice at the federal level. Officials typically conduct business in French, Dutch, and English. The Service Public Fédéral de la Justice includes the authorities responsible for forwarding documents. These authorities consist of the registries and parquets of civil, commercial, and labor courts, as well as the huissiers de justice of the Kingdom.

One of the key aspects to consider when discussing methods of service is Article 5(1)(2). The Government of Belgium emphasizes that any service request made necessitates the involvement of a judicial officer. Additionally,  Belgium requires compliance with translation requirements as stated in Article 5(3).  Translation into another language may be necessary to comply with the same. It should be noted that Undisputed Legal also provides translation services. This is particularly important since the Government of Belgium highlights that the Belgian Central Authority mandates a judicial document, to be served according to Article 5(1)(a) to be written in or translated into the official language or one of the official languages of the relevant region (Dutch-speaking, French-speaking, Brussels Capital, or German-speaking). The language in which the document should be translated can be determined based on the postal code of the addressee. 

Additionally, as per Article 12, the applicant is required to pay €165 (including Belgian VAT) in advance for each document served to an individual or entity. The payment must be made through a bank or financial institution in Belgium approved by the applicant’s country. The applicant is responsible for covering any bank charges. If the value-added tax (VAT) of the State of origin is implemented on service costs according to international regulations, the judicial officer will provide reimbursement for any excess payment made. After submitting proof of payment to the Belgian Central Authority, the applicant ensures that the request for service will be efficiently transmitted to a judicial officer with the appropriate territorial jurisdiction.

The time required for the execution of the request involving judicial officers, officials, or other competent persons under Article 10(b) should go through the Chambre nationale des Huissiers de Justice in Brussels, Belgium. It is preferable to engage a private process service agency like Undisputed Legal to ensure you get the fullest support in an international case. Since international process service is often time-consuming and difficult, it becomes important to utilize the resources accessible to the fullest. With a private process service agency like Undisputed Legal, our clients are exposed to a wider support system: from cutting-edge technology incorporated in the service to establishing relationships with the Central Authority. 

Role of the Ministry of Justice 

The FPS Justice, also known as FOD Justitie in Dutch, SPF Justice in French, and FÖD Justiz in German, is a federal public service in Belgium. It was previously known as the Ministry of Justice. On 15th  July 2002, the transition from a ministry to a federal public service was finalized.

The FPS Justice operates under the authority of the Minister of Justice. The FPS Justice is currently organized into three directorates-general being the [A.] Directorate-General for Judicial Organisation; [B.] Directorate-General for Legislation and Fundamental Rights and Freedoms and [C.]  Directorate-General for Correctional Facilities  In accordance with article 2, paragraph 1 of the Hague Service Convention, the Ministry of Justice, is designated as the Central Authority. The Ministry of Justice (FPS Justice) is also designated as the competent authority for receiving documents forwarded through the channels provided for in Article 9 of the Convention.

International process Service Regulations in Belgium

Council Regulation (EC) No 1393/2007, also known as the Service Regulation, is a legal framework established by the European Council. It pertains to delivering judicial and extrajudicial documents in civil or commercial matters within the Member States. 

It is necessary to understand that “competent authorities” refer to individuals or organizations with the necessary knowledge, skills, and authority to carry out specific tasks or make decisions in a particular context.  The executive power in the Kingdom of Belgium is exercised by the Federal Government, known as the Federale regering in Dutch, Gouvernement fédéral in French, and Föderalregierung in German. The government’s composition includes ministers and state secretaries, with the latter being junior or deputy ministers not part of the Council of Ministers. These individuals are selected from the political parties that make up the governing coalition. The federal government of Belgium is headed by the prime minister, who is responsible for leading the government. Additionally, ministers are appointed to oversee and lead various ministries within the government. The Council of Ministers is composed of ministers and serves as the highest executive body of the government, similar to a cabinet.

Outsourcing the responsibility of service to process servers in overseas service of process may provide you peace of mind so that you may concentrate on other aspects of your legal case. When trying to serve legal documents in Belgium or any other foreign country, it is necessary to work with professional process servers who are well-versed in the subtleties of international process service.

Pre-Action conduct in Belgium

Both the law and the parties might stipulate to pre-action behavior requirements. For instance, parties to a significant business dispute may choose to mediate or negotiate an agreement before resorting to legal action. A court has the discretion to delay proceedings pending the outcome of the discussions if the parties to the agreement so request. A foreign claimant’s claim may be put on hold if the defendant demands security (cautio iudicatum solvi) from the claimant to meet the defendant’s expenses in the event that the claimant’s claim is unsuccessful in limine litis (before the first defense on the merits is served). 

Judges have the authority to inquire about the parties’ pre-suit attempts at settlement under the Judicial Code. Usually, a claimant will note in the writ of summons that an effort to resolve the issue was attempted but has failed. The defendant must be served with a writ of summons (dagvaarding/citation) to begin legal proceedings. The writ is served by a bailiff (gerechtsdeurwaarder/huissier de justice). A joint written request from the parties is another option for starting legal proceedings. Like a writ of summons, the written request must provide specific information.

A bailiff will deliver the summons to the defendant’s principal place of business, dwelling, or chosen domicile. A third person or the defendant’s address may accept service if the defendant is unavailable. A bailiff may look up a person’s address in the National Register of Natural Persons to ensure it’s correct. A defendant has no recourse against service by a bailiff or the receipt date.

The bailiff must then register the matter in the court’s docket. The bailiff must wait at least eight days after the writ is served to begin court proceedings. The defendant might formulate its opening position during this time in the case. In injunction hearings, this time frame is shortened to two days and may be extended to eighty days, depending on the location of the defendant. The parties might establish a schedule for the submission of written papers (beginning with the defendant), lists of exhibits, and actual exhibits at the introduction hearing. Each side is free to submit as many as three briefs. A copy of any documents exchanged between solicitors for the parties is also provided to the court.

Understanding the Power of Attorney in Belgium 

Belgian consuls do not legalize official US documents for use in Belgium. Belgium and the United States, together with other countries, signed the Convention of the Hague in 1961. This Convention introduces a simplified “apostille” procedure, replacing the more cumbersome legalization. Official documents issued by one member state of the Convention need a single authentication “stamp,” the apostille, to become valid in another member state.

A power of attorney is a legal instrument by which one person (the grantor) gives another person (the agent) the legal authority to act on the grantor’s or the business’s behalf. The grantor’s signature is required for the agreement to take effect and to be legal in the eyes of the agent.

Foreign investors who are not physically present in Belgium but want someone else to conduct their business there might benefit from executing a power of attorney. Our Belgian local process servers can assist you with understanding these and other similar documents.  In Belgium, a power of attorney may be formalized in writing and witnessed by a notary public. There are two sorts of power of attorney, each suitable for various needs: [A.] the general power of attorney and [B.] the special power of attorney.

With a general power of attorney, the grantee gives the agent authority over all of the grantee’s affairs. The proxy is only authorized to carry out the designated duties under the special power of attorney. Finally, if the power of attorney specifies certain duties for the agent, that agent will be obligated to carry them out. Any time the grantor or the agent loses interest in carrying out the power of attorney’s terms, any party may revoke the document. The agreement also expires in the event of the grantor’s or agent’s death, legal constraint, or bankruptcy. 

International Process Service of Documents and the Authorities Responsible for them in Belgium

The EU Service Regulation (1393/2007) establishes the rules for service between EU member states. Service is accomplished when an application and supporting documents are submitted to the transmitting agency in the country of origin, which then forwards them to the National Bailiffs’ Association of Belgium (Nationale Kamer van Gerechtsdeurwaarders/Chambre Nationale des Huissiers de Justice). The papers to be served and their translations into Dutch or French may be necessary, depending on the site of service; however, this may vary by nation of origin. Transmission request forms are available in Dutch, French, German, and English.

To serve both judicial and extrajudicial documents in international civil and commercial matters, Belgium is a signatory to the Hague Convention of 1965. Service under this Convention is done via the Ministry of Justice by the National Bailiff’s Association of Belgium. If there is no bilateral treaty between Belgium and the requesting country, the requesting country might make a formal request via its embassy or consulate in Belgium. Foreign courts must file a letter of request to the relevant Belgian court in order to gather testimony from a witness residing in Belgium who is reluctant to cooperate.

Foreign judgments are enforced using an exequatur process. Different rules apply based on where the foreign judgment was issued. However, a valid proof of service is essential for legal proceedings. If you need legal documents prepared and checked for compliance with U.S. and Belgian law, our Undisputed Legal process servers can help. While legal proceedings may difficult to deal with, we will do our best to transmit your documents without a hitch. Saving documents abroad may be time-consuming and frustrating without proper preparation and legal insight. Put your faith in Undisputed Legal, where we remain always accountable to our clients. 

OUR PROCESS

Documents can be faxed to (800)-296-0115, emailed to ps@undisputedlegal.com, mailed to 590 Madison Avenue, 21 Floor, New York, New York 10022, or dropped off at any of our locations. We do require pre-payment and accept all major credit and debit cards. Once payment is processed, your sales receipt is immediately emailed for your records.

Drop-offs must call and make an appointment first to be added to building security to permit access to our office. Documents for service must be in a sealed envelope with payment in the form of a money order or attorney check (WE DO NOT ACCEPT CASH) payable to UNDISPUTED LEGAL INC.; All documents are received by our receptionist.

DOMESTIC COVERAGE AREAS:

Alaska | Alabama | Arkansas | Arizona | California | Colorado | Connecticut | District of Columbia | Delaware | Florida | Georgia | Hawaii | Iowa | Idaho | Illinois | Indiana | Kansas | Kentucky | Louisiana | Maryland | Massachusetts | Maine | Michigan | Minnesota | Mississippi | Missouri | Montana | North Carolina | North Dakota | Nebraska | New Hampshire | New Jersey | New Mexico | Nevada | New York | Ohio | Oklahoma | Oregon | Pennsylvania | Rhode Island | South Carolina | South Dakota | Tennessee | Texas | Utah | Virginia | Vermont | Washington | West Virginia | Wisconsin | Wyoming

INTERNATIONAL COVERAGE AREAS:

Albania | Andorra | Anguilla | Antigua | Argentina | Armenia | Australia | Austria | Azerbaijan | Bahamas | Barbados| Belarus | Belgium | Belize | Bermuda | Bosnia and Herzegovina | Botswana | Brazil | British Honduras | British Virgin Islands | Bulgaria | Canada | Cayman Islands | Central and Southern Line Islands | Chile|China (Macao) | China People’s Republic | Colombia | Costa Rica | Country of Georgia | Croatia | Cyprus | Czech Republic | Denmark | Dominican Republic | Ecuador | Egypt | Estonia | Falkland Islands and Dependences | Fiji | Finland | France | Germany | Gibraltar | Gilbert and Ellice Islands | Greece | Guernsey | Hong Kong | Hungary | Iceland | India | Ireland| Isle of Man | Israel | Italy| Jamaica | Japan | Jersey Channel Islands | Jordan | Kazakhstan | Korea | Kuwait | Latvia| Lithuania | Luxembourg | Malawi | Malaysia | Malta | Mauritius | Mexico| MonacoMontenegro | Montserrat | Morocco | Namibia | Netherlands| New Zealand |Nicaragua | Norway | Pakistan | Panama | Paraguay | Peru | Philippines | Pitcairn |Poland | Portugal | Republic of Moldova | Republic of North Macedonia | Romania |Russian Federation | Saint Vincent and the Grenadines | San Marino | Saudi Arabia | Serbia | Seychelles | Singapore| Slovakia| Slovenia | South Africa | Spain | Sri Lanka | St. Helena and Dependencies | St. Lucia | Sweden | Switzerland | Taiwan | Thailand | Tunisia | Turkey | Turks and Caicos Islands| UkraineUnited Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland | Uruguay | US Virgin Islands | Uzbekistan | Venezuela | Vietnam

OFFICE LOCATIONS

New York: (212) 203-8001 – 590 Madison Avenue, 21st Floor, New York, New York 10022
Brooklyn: (347) 983-5436 – 300 Cadman Plaza West, 12th Floor, Brooklyn, New York 11201
Queens: (646) 357-3005 – 118-35 Queens Blvd, Suite 400, Forest Hills, New York 11375
Long Island: (516) 208-4577 – 626 RXR Plaza, 6th Floor, Uniondale, New York 11556
Westchester: (914) 414-0877 – 50 Main Street, 10th Floor, White Plains, New York 10606
Connecticut: (203) 489-2940 – 500 West Putnam Avenue, Suite 400, Greenwich, Connecticut 06830
New Jersey: (201) 630-0114 – 101 Hudson Street, 21 Floor, Jersey City, New Jersey 07302
Washington DC: (202) 655-4450 – 1101 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. Suite 300, Washington DC 20004

FOR ASSISTANCE SERVING LEGAL PAPERS IN BELGIUM

Pick up the phone and call Toll-Free (800) 774-6922 or click the service you want to purchase. Our dedicated team of professionals is ready to assist you. We can handle all your Belgium process service needs; no job is too small or too large!

Contact us for more information about our process-serving agency. We are ready to provide service of process to all our clients globally from our offices in New York, Brooklyn, Queens, Long Island, Westchester, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Washington, D.C.

“Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction, and skillful execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives”– Foster, William A

Source

1. Known as arrondissements judiciaires/gerechtelijke arrondissementen.

2. Referred to as tribunal de première instance/rechtbank van eerste aanleg.

3. Service Public Fédéral Justice, specifically the Service de coopération internationale civile, located at Boulevard de Waterloo, 115, 1000.

4. The following ranges of postal codes correspond to specific languages: –

  1. Postal codes ranging from 1000 to 1299 indicate that the document should be translated into either French or Dutch. 
  2. Postal codes ranging from 1300 to 1499 indicate that the document should be translated into French. 
  3. Postal codes ranging from 1500 to 3999 indicate that the document should be translated into Dutch. 
  4. Postal codes ranging from 4000 to 4699 indicate that the document should be translated into French. 
  5. Postal codes ranging from 4700 to 4799 indicate that the document should be translated into German. 
  6. Postal codes ranging from 4800 to 7999 indicate that the document should be translated into French. 
  7. Postal codes ranging from 8000 to 9999 indicate that the document should be translated into Dutch.

5. After receiving the application, the Belgian Central Authority will provide the applicant with the necessary information regarding the designated bank account for payment and the specific file reference number to be used in all communications. 

6. The rules mentioned above regarding the payment amount, prior transfer, and reimbursement of any overpayment also apply to services performed under Articles 10 (b) and (c).

7. Avenue Henri Jaspar 93, 1060 Brussels

8. this entity was created by a royal order on May 23, 2001.

9. Administration de la Législation (Legislation Department), Place Poelaert, 4, 1000 Brussels

10. Strasbourg adopted The regulation on November 13, 2007. 

11. The allocation of executive power is formally entrusted to the king, who is responsible for formally selecting the ministers.

12. The duty to provide security does not apply to claimants from the European Union or countries with whom Belgium has agreed to a bilateral treaty exempting claimants from providing security.

13. An ex-parte request allows a party to start court procedures without the other parties being informed.

14. Article 14 of the EU Service Regulation (1393/2007) allows for the direct service of a writ of summons in Belgium from another EU member state by registered mail with acknowledgment of receipt or equivalent.

15. In the event of the grantor’s incapacity, a durable power of attorney continues to function. When the primary is no longer capable of making medical choices for themselves, these papers are employed.

16. Dienst voor wederzijdse rechtshulp in burgerlijke zaken or the Service d’Entraide judiciaire international en matière civile

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