A second lockdown, a second moratorium

24 December 2020

The Act of 20 December 2020 reintroduces the moratorium in force following the first lockdown, for a (renewable) period from 24 December 2020 until 31 January 2021. In terms of content, the new moratorium is almost identical to the previous one; however, its scope ratione personae is substantially narrower.

With the Act of 20 December 2020 containing various temporary and structural provisions on justice in the context of the fight against the spread of the COVID‑19 coronavirus, the legislator is taking both temporary and structural measures to deal with the consequences of the pandemic.

Several measures are a reinstatement of measures that were already introduced on a temporary basis following the first lockdown.

Specifically with regard to insolvency law, the Act reintroduces a moratorium, modelled on the moratorium in force from 24 April until 17 June 2020 under Royal Decree No 15 of 24 April 2020 on the temporary suspension in favour of companies of implementing measures and other measures.

The new moratorium will enter into force on the date of publication of the Act in the Belgian Official Gazette (24 December 2020) and will end on 31 January 2021. This period may be extended by royal decree. 

The content of the new moratorium is virtually identical to the previous one (see our analysis), with the proviso that its scope is substantially more limited: the current moratorium applies only to

(i) companies

(ii) which were the subject of the closure measures imposed by the Ministerial Decree of 28 October 2020 on urgent measures to limit the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus (amended by the Ministerial Decree of 1 November 2020),

(iii) whose continuity is threatened by the spread of the COVID-19 epidemic or pandemic and its consequences, and

(iv) which had not suspended payments as at 18 March 2020.

The second criterion mentioned above is new compared to the scope of the previous moratorium and significantly reduces the circle of companies protected by the current moratorium.