On 11 July 2013, Belgium adopted new legislation on the creation and enforcement of security interests in moveable assets (the "Act"). The purpose of the Act is to significantly reform and modernise security interests in movable assets. Initially, the Act was scheduled to enter into force on 1 December 2014, at the latest. However, due to delays in the establishment of the national electronic pledge register, Parliament has decided to postpone the entry into force of the Act until 1 January 2017, at the latest.
One of the most important changes to be introduced by the Act will be the abolishment of the current dispossession requirement in relation to pledges of moveable assets. Pursuant to this requirement, a pledge of movable assets can only be created and perfected if the goods are removed from the pledgor's possession and placed under the control of the pledgee or a third-party pledge holder. As the assets are in most cases used in the debtor's day-to-day business, the dispossession requirement tends to render the pledge of such assets difficult, if not impossible, in practice.
Therefore, the Act provides that it will be possible to create a pledge of movable assets through mere agreement of the parties, which is perfected by means of either (i) filing with the national pledge register or (ii) dispossession of the pledged assets, as is currently the case. The national pledge register will be an electronic register which can be accessed by both the pledgor and the pledgee. Access by third parties will be regulated by royal decree. A fee will be due for each consultation, filing, amendment or deregistration. The level of the fee (i.e. nominal or tied to the secured amount) is still under discussion.
Unfortunately, the establishment of the national electronic pledge register has been delayed, and it is not expected to be operational before mid- to late 2016. As the register is the cornerstone of the proposed reform, the Belgian legislator decided to postpone the entry into force of the Act until 1 January 2017, at the latest. Ratification by the King of this decision is to follow soon. The financial sector's request that the Act enter into force by 1 January 2016, considering the pressing need to reform security interests in movable assets in Belgium, was rejected.