The Law of May 4, 2023, published in the Belgian Official Gazette on May 23, 2023, has added Book XIX “Consumer Debts” to the Economic Law Code (ELC) in Belgium. This book provides rules and procedures regarding payment arrears of consumers at companies and the amicable collection of consumer debts. Here are the main points summarized from the text:
- Scope: Book XIX ELC applies to late payments of consumer debts to enterprises.
- First reminder: The consumer must receive a first reminder before any damage clauses are applied. This reminder must be free of charge and contain specific information.
- Verification obligation (duty of care): Before proceeding with debt collection, the debt collector must verify that the requirements for the requested amounts are met.
- Article XIX.4 ELC: This article limits the default interest and lump sum damage clauses that can be demanded from the consumer.
- Default notice: Before further collection measures are taken, the consumer must be put in default through a clear and detailed letter.
- Possible "stop buttons" for the consumer: During a waiting period of fourteen calendar days after the default notice, the consumer can request repayment plans, engage a debt mediator, or apply for a moratorium in disputes.
- Summary of the procedure: The course of the collection procedure varies depending on whether the creditor has sent a first reminder before the debt is transferred to the debt collector.
- Other points of attention: There are various other rules and obligations for debt collectors, including control by the Economic Inspection, providing information to consumers, and not being able to charge costs to the consumer.
- Sanctions: There are heavy civil and criminal sanctions for non-compliance with these rules, as well as administrative supervision.
This summary provides a concise overview of the main points from the text on Book XIX “Consumer Debts” in the ELC of Belgium. It is important to consult the full text of the law for detailed information and compliance with the law.