Belgium Sets Up an English-language Business Court to Take Advantage of Brexit


Belgium is establishing a new English-language court to resolve international business disputes in the newest move by a European Union country to attempt to attract companies away from London after Brexit.

The Brussels International Business Court will hold hearings and declare judgments in English and the government said that it expects that the departure of Britain from the European Union “will only increase the number of these disputes” that must be resolved.

A fierce rivalry has started among European capitals to attract insurers, banks, and other firms that are looking to relocate from London since the shock vote of Britain in 2016 to withdraw from the European Union.

“If we are to make Brussels a hub for international business, those concerned must be able to resolve their legal disputes without going overseas or resorting to private arbitration,” said the government on Friday in a statement that revealed the plans.

“According to forecasts, Brexit will only increase the number of these cases and Brexit means it will no longer be as simple to go to a London court.”

Judges will be selected for their specialist expertise and there will be no appeal against the judgments of the court, which the government stated will ensure swift and decisive results.

A departure of major finance houses including JPMorgan and HSBC from London is on the cards already, while the slow pace of Brexit discussions and developing threat of Britain leaving the European Union in March 2019 without a legal deal in place are making businesses more worried than ever.

Prime Minister Charles Michel said that the English-language court that was billed as a first in a non-English speaking country, would add to the appeal of Belgium as a base for companies that are dealing in contracts in English.

“The European Union’s development cannot be held back by Brexit. Our country is seizing the moment to offer a new judicial tool,” said Michel in a statement.

“The competence and independence of our judges will help make this new jurisdiction extremely attractive.”

Talks between the EU and London regarding the terms of the departure of Britain have hit trouble, mainly over the question of how much the United Kingdom will pay as it leaves. The sixth round of negotiations is anticipated in the coming weeks. However, no date has been announced.