In the event of litigation in Belgium, it is probably best to discuss your options with a lawyer. Please find below, however, some basic information on litigation:
- Proceedings start with the service of a summons on the defendant. The summons must contain a brief statement of the claim(s). Additional claims can be introduced at a later date, provided they are based on facts disclosed in the initial summons.
- The case will be introduced at a preliminary hearing ("introductory hearing" or "hearing for direction"). It is common practice to fix a timetable for the exchange of written submissions at this hearing. If the parties cannot agree on a timetable, the court will set one.
- The procedure is mainly a written one, and the parties' arguments are developed in written submissions.
- The defendant must file its written submissions first and usually has the last word and hence the right to file the last submissions.
- Once all arguments have been exchanged in writing, the parties will have the opportunity to defend their case during a hearing. Oral arguments are generally relatively short, and the parties must focus their pleadings on the essence of their case or defence.