The Belgian government has announced plans to create a new Brussels International Business Court (BIBC) which would deal exclusively with international business disputes. The novelty lies in the fact that all proceedings and the judgments of the BIBC would be in English. The BIBC would be a one stop shop and would deliver final judgments with no possibility of appeal. The Court would be staffed by panels of three judges including senior professional judges drawn from the Belgian State Courts as well as judges selected from the Belgian academic, legal and business communities. It is planned that the BIBC would be largely self-financing meaning that the level of court fees is likely to be substantially higher than the levels currently prevailing in the Belgian State Courts. The jurisdiction of the BIBC will presumably be founded on a choice of forum made by the parties in their contract or at the time they decide to submit their dispute to the BIBC. The rules of procedure are likely to be based on the UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration.

The BIBC appears to be akin to international arbitration and, for the moment, it is not clear what will be the key differences between international arbitration and proceedings before the BIBC.

The draft bill is at a preliminary stage and still has to go through the whole legislative process.

By Charles Price