As a general rule, lodging an appeal against a judgment no longer suspends its enforceability. This should accelerate the recovery of outstanding debt in Belgium.
Recovering outstanding debt in Belgium can feel like a long-winded and sometimes frustrating job. A creditor who obtained a judgment against a defaulting debtor is often confronted with an appeal by that debtor, lodged with the only intention to put the enforcement of this judgment on a back burner. Most courts of appeal built up a large backlog as a result of the massive workload of among others these dilatory appeals.
The Belgian legislator acknowledged this phenomenon and implemented a set of procedural rules aiming to discourage debtors to lodge such dilatory appeal.
Under the new procedural rules, lodging an appeal against a judgment will – as a general rule – no longer suspend the enforceability of this judgment. Consequently, even if the debtor starts appeal proceedings, the creditor will be able to pursue the recovery of the debt and demand that his debtor pays in accordance with the judgment of the first court.
However, one should never skate on thin ice when it comes to the enforcement of a non-final judgment: if the court of appeal were to decide in favour of the debtor, the creditor will have to reimburse the debtor, and the latter could claim compensation for any proven prejudice incurred as a result of the enforcement.
Furthermore, it should be noted that a debtor who has lodged an appeal can stop the enforcement of a non-final judgment by transferring the claimed amount to a special frozen account until the court of appeal has made its judgment.
It is hoped that these new procedural rules will reduce the workload of the courts of appeal, as a result of which the lead time of the remaining appeal procedures could become shorter. This could mean a big step in the right direction for creditors waiting to recover outstanding debts.