Due to a second “moratorium” Belgian business undertakings will be protected from bankruptcy for a limited period from 24 December 2020 till 31 January 2021. This has been decided by the Belgian legislator in a law of 20 December 2020, published today on 24 December 2020.
In the spring of 2020 a first moratorium was granted in the heat of the first wave of the corona-crisis. This time, the moratorium is more nuanced and it is not an overall suspension of payments or insolvency proceedings.
All business undertakings who are affected by closure measures (decided by ministerial decree of 28 October 2020) are automatically granted a general “stay”. This stay is somewhat similar to the stay granted to business undertakings that have applied for a judicial reorganization.
Business undertakings who are operating and can remain open do not fall within the scope of the “moratorium”. This means for example that retail companies and shops will not benefit from the “moratorium”, but that most entertainment companies, bars & restaurants probably will.
The “moratorium” implies, among others, that no civil attachment and seizures can take place and that the forced execution of judgments is halted. No business undertaking can be summoned in bankruptcy or judicial liquidation. Directors have no obligation to file for bankruptcy when the conditions are met, but they may do so. Contracts cannot be terminated, unilaterally or by court decision, merely due to a failure to pay (other non-execution could still lead to termination). Business undertakings that have underwent a judicial reorganization can postpone the terms agreed in their reorganization plan.
Certain protective wording is included in the law, for instance, that employers cannot invoke the “moratorium” in relation to the employees. Financiers are relieved of liability if their new credit failed to safeguard the continuity of the business. Finally, each interested party can contest in special summary proceedings when a business undertaking unlawfully invokes the “moratorium”
It remains to be seen if this second moratorium will be effective in reducing the long-awaited boom in bankruptcies. Paradoxically, the number of bankruptcies has been below average since the beginning of the first lockdown, nine months ago. These figures however, seem to disguise a growing indebtedness that will surface sooner or later.
If your company is affected by the Belgian “moratorium” you can contact Astrea via email@example.com