March 2011


43.5.2 Law applicable to dealing with properties in Belgium as assets of the bankruptcy estate

The EC Regulation on Insolvency Proceedings 2000 (‘the EC Regulation’) (see Chapter 41) generally provides that the law applicable to the bankruptcy is that of the Member State in which the bankruptcy order was made [note 1] (see paragraph 41.51). 

There are, however, exceptions to this general rule, which exceptions include special provisions in the case of property.  In particular, the opening of the proceedings does not affect third parties ‘rights in rem’ to property.  ‘Rights in rem’ are the rights of a creditor or third party in respect of assets belonging to the debtor which are situated in another Member State at the time of the opening of the proceedings [note 2]. 


43.5.3 Protection of the rights of chargeholders

As outlined at paragraph, the EC Regulation provides that ‘rights in rem’ are subject to an exception to the general rule regarding choice of law [note 3].

Broadly speaking, ‘rights in rem’ include security rights such as a mortgage, and the EC Regulation provides that it is the law of the country in which the property subject to security that would take precedence when considering the effect of the proceedings on those rights.

To comply with the EC Regulation, the official receiver in his/her capacity as trustee of the bankrupt’s estate  will have to follow Belgian law when dealing with the rights of chargeholders. 


43.5.4 Properties in Belgium as assets of the bankruptcy estate

The Act provides that property, wherever situated in the world, forms part of the bankruptcy estate [note 4] [note 5], and the Act gives the trustee a power of sale over the property [note 6].

It is clear, therefore, that property in Belgium belonging to the bankrupt would form part of the bankrupt’s estate and should be realised as appropriate, following the guidance in this Part.


43.5.5 Ensure that value of property justifies action taken to protect/realise

As with any other property, the official receiver, as trustee, should ensure that the value of the property to the estate justifies any action taken, or expense incurred, in relation to the protection or realisation of the property.

It is accepted that this may be something of a circular matter, in that it may be necessary to incur some expense to find out that the property has no value.


43.5.6 Ascertaining the value to the estate of a property in Belgium

In simple terms, the calculation of the value of a Belgian property to the estate involves the same process as would be required for a property in England and Wales (that is, the value of the property less any secured charges).  What may be more difficult is the obtaining of accurate information regarding the value of the property and the amount and level of any outstanding charges.


43.5.7 Obtaining information regarding the value of a property in Belgium from the bankrupt

The most likely source of information regarding the value of the property will be from the information or documentation provided by the bankrupt, for example: 

  • Estimates of the value of the property made in the preliminary questionnaire or interview.
  • Documentation showing the purchase price.
  • Valuations provided during any re-mortgage process.


43.5.8 Other sources of information regarding the value of a property in Belgium

As in the UK, there are websites that give the prices of properties that are for sale.  Examples are given here:

It is possible that a local estate agent may be prepared to offer an opinion.  An agent may be located by region on the following website:


43.5.9 Where accurate valuation of property is required

Where it is necessary to obtain an accurate value of the property the official receive, as trustee,  may consider appointing a Belgian surveyor.  As this service is likely to attract a fee the official receiver should consider the necessity of the valuation against the likely benefit to the estate.  A surveyor may be located on the following website:


43.5.10 Establishing the position of charges against the property

It is likely that, as with a UK property, the official receiver, as trustee, will be able to establish what charges there are against the property from documentation or information provided by the bankrupt.

Assuming the identity of at least one of the secured chargeholders is known, they can be written to in the normal way (see paragraph 43.5.12) to obtain details of the amount outstanding under their charge and the identity of any other chargeholders.  Such an approach should be accompanied by a completed data protection act disclosure authority signed by the bankrupt (see paragraph 43.5.16) to avoid any refusal to provide information under jurisdictional differences.


43.5.11 Protecting the official receiver’s interest in the property

In the first instance, the official receiver should contact any chargeholder and request that they note the official receiver’s interest in the property (see paragraph). 

In addition to informing the chargeholders of the making of the bankruptcy order, it may be necessary to register the official receiver’s interest in the property at the land register office (see paragraph 43.5.13).  If so, further guidance should be sought from the organisation listed in paragraph 43.5.14.


43.5.12 Contacting the chargeholder

Annex 1 is an MP2 letter (seeking information from a chargeholder) that has been amended  to be more relevant in respect of a Belgian property.

Annex 2 is an MP3 letter (requesting the chargeholder to note the official receiver’s interest in the property) that has been amended to be more specific in respect of a Belgian property.

As English is widely spoken in Belgium it has not been considered necessary to provide a translation of these letters.


43.5.13 Land Registration in Belgium

There are 48 land registration districts in Belgium, each with responsibility for land registration within its district.  The registration records the proprietor of the land and, also, the details of any charges outstanding.

More information may be obtained on the following website:


43.5.14 Local assistance when realising the propertyInsolvency professionals, who may be able to assist in protecting and realising a property in Belgium, all appear to be members of the Association Européenne des Praticiens des Procédures Collectives (AEPPC). The contact details for this organization are as follows: 

Contacts, Websites & Addresses :

(i) Association Européenne des Praticiens des Procédures Collectives (AEPPC)
Address :     INSOL EUROPE
                  Association Européenne des Praticiens 
                  des Procédures Collectives (AEPPC)
                  PO Box 7149
                  NG11 6WD
                  United Kingdom
Tel/Fax   :    +44 (0)115 878 0584
Website :


43.5.15 Obtaining contact details for a Belgian lawyer

The website of the Law Society has a database of lawyers that may be searched by location and specialism:

Alternatively, the British Consulate in Belgium may be able to assist in the location of local legal representation.                


43.5.16 Data protection

It may be the case that any Belgian organisation from whom the official receiver seeks information will cite data protection legislation as a reason for not providing the requested information.

In this case, the official receiver should have the bankrupt complete the data protection subject access form [note 7] and send that to the relevant organisation with a renewed request.


43.5.17 Disclaiming the property

The official receiver, as trustee, may issue a disclaimer of the property, but only if the property has some onerous obligation attached to it (such as an obligation to repair, maintain, make safe, insure for public liability or make secure) and, as a result, has no value to the estate.

Annex 3 is a document which explains the purpose and effect of a disclaimer, which should be included with the notice of disclaimer when served on interested parties.

See Chapter 34 for advice regarding the process of disclaiming.


43.5.18 Abandoning the property (amended July 2013)

Where there is no prospect of the property achieving equity sufficient to make realisation worthwhile, the official receiver, as trustee, may cease to take any active steps in dealing with the property – effectively, ‘abandoning’ the property to the mortgagees.  Where the property’s value is affected by some onerous obligation (to insure or make the property safe, for example) a disclaimer would be the more appropriate course of action (see paragraph 43.5.17).

Where this position is apparent prior to the process of registering his/her interest at the Land Registry (see paragraph 43.5.11), the official receiver may discontinue that process.  The official receiver should, though, ensure that his/her interest in noted by the mortgagees in the event of a surplus arising.