In order to allow parties to an ongoing dispute to reach a settlement, and thus reach a more (cost) efficient and faster outcome than a court judgment, the French-speaking Enterprise Court of Brussels has created a chamber for amicable settlement (“chambre de règlement amiable”), which has been launched this month, September 2020.
Insofar as the dispute falls within the jurisdiction of the French-speaking Enterprise Court of Brussels, which is the case for most French business-to-business disputes and issues under the Code of Companies and Associations in Brussels, any party may request a conciliation hearing. Important to note is that the dispute may be introduced before the chamber of amicable settlement by letter or email and regardless of whether prior judicial proceedings had been initiated. The chamber is presided over by a court magistrate assisted by two consular judges, both trained in conciliation and / or mediation. No later than one week before the conciliation hearing, the parties must communicate the relevant documents and a one-page summary of the dispute to the clerk's office. For the conciliation hearing, the parties must appear in person, but may be assisted by their lawyers.
The conciliation hearing will last for 30 up to 60 minutes. The parties may be heard separately if they agree to this. All discussions that take place during the conciliation hearing are and remain confidential. After hearing the parties, the chamber for amicable settlement may suggest potential solutions. The aforementioned chamber is furthermore able to ratify any agreement the parties may reach.
The procedure before the chamber for amicable settlement is voluntary and strictly confidential. Initiating proceedings before the chamber for amicable settlement is free of charge, i.e. no costs have to be paid to the adverse party or to the court. In case of failure of the conciliation or partial agreement between the parties only, the parties may request that the dispute is brought before another chamber for ordinary judicial proceedings. If there were already judicial proceedings ongoing, these will be re-activated.