Belgium: What happened in 2019 and significant events in 2020
New evidence rules (Book VIII of the Civil Code): Book VIII is the first book of the new Civil Code to have been adopted in 2019 and will come into force on 1 November 2020. Book VIII adapts the Belgian rules on evidence to the needs of the modern legal world. It codifies concepts developed by case law and legal doctrine (such as the duty to collaborate in the administration of evidence); provides for contemporary definitions of concepts such as "signature" and "document"; lessens the formalistic approach to the evidence rules and introduces new techniques (such as the reversal of the burden of proof in exceptional circumstances).
New Companies and Associations Code – Real seat theory abandoned: Up to May 2019, legal persons having their “principal establishment” (or “real seat”) in Belgium were governed by Belgian law, and Belgian courts had jurisdiction over their validity, functioning, dissolution and winding-up. The Law introducing the new Companies and Associations Code has modified the Code of Private International Law in order to replace the real seat criterion with a new one. The applicable law and competent courts are now determined by the seat provided for by the legal person’s articles of association (the “registered office”), regardless of where the legal person actually operates. “Foreign” legal persons adopting a Belgian registered office must comply with the cross-border conversion procedure set out by the new Companies and Associations Code.