State of digitalization of ESCP Enforcement Procedures

The use of videoconference by courts in the conduct of hearings. With the COVID-19 outbreak, the judiciary of Belgium has encouraged it – in an issued Guideline[1]. The Ministry of Justice should provide additional technical resources – e.g. microphones, webcams, and screens – for the courtrooms enabling them to hold virtual oral hearings.

Service of documents in civil proceedings, Belgium has established a new alternative for submitting a claim and other supporting documents to the justices of the peace through the ‘e-Deposit’ system[2].

The use of e-filing in Belgium for general procedural purposes has been – limitedly – in force since July 2016. The main objective of this system is to promote digital justice by enabling individuals to submit their documents to courts electronically. Since 2020, this service can be also used to submit documents to justices of the peace.

ESCP Procedural aspects

1. Competent Enforcement Authority

Judicial officers (huissiers de justice).

2. Rules on service

The direct submission of the standard claim form A, as set out in Annex I of ESCP Reg., through the registered letter with acknowledgement of receipt.

If the defendant lives in Belgium, the registry of the Court will serve the documents (Form A application with Form C) to the defendant by “court letter” (equivalent to a registered letter with acknowledgment of receipt), within 14 days of receipt of the application form duly completed, in accordance with the EC Regulation No 1393/2007.

3. Language of the Certificate and Documents to be Appended

Documents must be in one of the three official languages of the country (French, Dutch or German). For documents thata are not in any of the accepted languages, the claimant must provide their translation prior to lodge them before the court.

4. Enforcement Fees

In terms of the procedural costs of the ESCP, the Belgian legislator has acted transparently. The costs for the first instance procedure before a justice of the peace are at a fixed rate of 50 € per claim. Since the beginning of February 2019, as indicated in Art. 1017 BJC, this amount must be paid at the end of legal proceedings by the losing party.

5. Refusal/Stay/Limitation of ESCP enforcement procedures

The authority with competence to refuse, stay or limit enforcement is first and foremost the attachment judge (“juge des saisies (exécution)/ beslagrechter (tenhuitvoerlegging)/ Pfändungsrichter.“) of the place where the attachment is carried out, pursuant to Article 1395 of the Belgian Judicial Code.

The territorial jurisdiction is defined in Article 633 of the Belgian Judicial Code.

Concerning the limitation and/or suspension of an ESCP judgement enforcement procedure in Belgium, any objection shall be lodged before the Court of First Instance[3].

Critical assessment

Obstacles to the implemtation of ESCP in Belgium

  • lack of awareness among citizens
  • no centralized system within the Belgian judiciary to deal with the ESCP cases
  • lack of free legal assistance for the citizens to aid and encourage them using this instrument for their small claims

[1] See Guideline of the College of Courts and Tribunals under Communication Coronavirus XXI, November 1, 2020, available at <> accessed 8 August 2022.

[2] For more information on this electronic system visit:;jsessionid=Y- uROFASXOMJFPuGAikPVFsOMVWxXYKVUBXWGmWnP_N_gruwB1S0!464500959, accessed 8 August 2022.

[3] In French juge des saisies, in Dutch beslagrechter, and in German Pfändungsrichter. See Art. 1489 BJC.