Legal insights

NEXT STEP TAKEN FOR NEW BELGIAN MARITIME CODE

Next step taken for new Belgian Maritime Code

The council of ministers has sent the draft of the new Maritime Code to the Council of State on 22 December 2017.

With this step the preparations of this big reform have come to an end. Since 2006 a team of shipping law specialists has been working on this draft. After some public consultations and negotiations with several stakeholders it has been decided by the government to leave out two controversial parts of the reform. Marine insurance and cargo claims have been lifted out of the reform.

IPA 2017-2018 AND MODIFICATION OF THE WAGE NORM ACT

Every two years a wage norm, determining the margin for the development of wage costs in our country, is established in order to maintain the competitiveness of the Belgian economy.

Reclassification of a contractor’s agreement into an employment relationship: Supreme Court overrules principal because the contract is not foolproof

The phenomenon of fake self-employment is as old as labour law itself, but nevertheless remains very relevant. This is again illustrated by a judgement of the Supreme Court of 10th October 2016, where the Court stated that the right to apply disciplinary sanctions is incompatible with the existence of an independent contractor’s agreement.

Update on anti-piracy rules in Belgium

With the publication of a Royal Decree of 1 September 2016 in the Official Belgian State Gazette, the last update of the Belgian anti-piracy rules is now in place.

Armed guards on Belgian flagged vessels are allowed (under certain conditions) since the law of 16 January 2013. Meanwhile some of the rules on this topic have changed. I will give a brief outline of the recent changes.

Geographical limits

THE BELGIAN COMPETITION AUTHORITY ADOPTS NEW LENIENCY GUIDELINES

On March 1st, 2016, the Belgian Competition Authority (“BCA”) adopted new leniency guidelines.

An undertaking that is a participant in a (secret) cartel (e.g. price agreements amongst competitors, restriction of production, allocation of markets), risks a fine of up to 10% of its turnover (Article IV.70, §1 Code of Economic Law).

BELGIAN LEGAL INTEREST RATE FOR THE YEAR 2016

The legal interest rate for the year 2016 has been set at 2,25 % (publication in the Belgian Official Gazette of 18 January 2016).

The interest rate of 2015 was 2.50 %

The interest rate according to the law on the late payment in commercial transactions (Law of 02/08/2002 on combating late payment in commercial transactions, modified by the Law of 22 November 2013, B.S. 10/12/2013) amounts to 8.5% for the 1st semester 2016 (communication in the Belgian Law Gazette of 01 February 2016).

THE NIPPONKOA INSURANCE JUDGMENT: A HIGHWAY TO FORUM SHOPPING?

In the Nipponkoa Insurance judgment of 19 December 2013, the question arose to what extent judgments about the CMR, especially the so-called ‘negative declaratory judgments’, should be recognized by the courts of another EU member state.

LAW ON CHARTERING AND PRICING IN THE INLAND WATERWAY SECTOR: CONFORMITY WITH EUROPEAN LAW INVESTIGATED.

In order to strengthen the competitiveness of its inland waterway sector, Belgium introduced two laws on chartering and pricing in the inland waterway sector on 22 August 2014. It is questionable whether the new regulation on pricing is in line with European law.

The explanatory memorandum of the law states that for the concept and definition of “unlawful low price” inspiration was found in the Akzo judgment of the Court of Justice of 3 July 1991. In this judgment the Court ruled that offering services at unlawfully low prices is a malpractice under EC competition law.

BELGIAN PORT LABOUR IN THE LIGHT OF RECENT EUROPEAN DEVELOPMENTS

 

The judgment of the Court of Justice of 11 December 2014 concerning port labour in Spain has put a lot of pressure on the Belgian Port Labour Policy.

ENFORCEMENT OF THE MLC 2006: BELGIAN LEGISLATION UNDER EUROPEAN IMPULSE

MLC 2006 creates global minimum standards that guarantee the right of all seafarers to decent living and working conditions, regardless of their nationality and regardless of the flag of the ship on which they work. Through Directive 2009/16/EC as amended by Directive 2013/38/EU and Directive 2013/54/EU the EU has tried to ensure enforcement of MLC 2006 in all European  Member States in their capacities of Port State or Flag State.

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