Although insurance cover is available in respect of legal costs, and the State will in appropriate cases provide legal aid for those who cannot afford legal costs, the issue of third party funding has yet to be considered by the legislature or Bar authorities in Belgium. There is, therefore, as yet little activity in this area.

Currently, professional rules make third party litigation funding schemes difficult to implement and any third party funding arrangements can be held to be null and void.

"No win, no fee" arrangements with lawyers - which typically go hand-in-hand with third party funding in the UK - also remain strictly prohibited under Belgian law. "Success fees" do exist in Belgium but these are discretionary on the part of clients at the conclusion of proceedings rather than being capable of forming part of the initial engagement with the client's lawyers.

General principles

In Belgium, the Bar authorities are sceptical of the ability of Belgian lawyers to act in the best interests of their clients (and to stay completely independent) when a third party is involved in the funding of the client's litigation. There are no guidelines in Belgium which regulate how the relationship between lawyer and client, and lawyer and third party funder could operate. In addition, the Bar rules impose strict obligations of confidentiality on client-lawyer communications which may hinder prospective funders from proactively investigating cases for funding.

Although third party litigation funders are not directly subject to the same professional rules as lawyers, it remains difficult - in the absence of clear guidance from the Belgian legislature or Bar authorities - to see a way around the difficulties outlined above.