Belgium has become the latest country to announce the creation of an English-language business court to compete with London as a commercial dispute resolution centre post-Brexit. The country’s cabinet on Friday approved a plan by the justice minister, Koen Geens, to create the ‘Brussels International Business Court’.
Similar initiatives have been proposed by the French government and the Netherlands judiciary. However, the Belgian government announcement says the Brussels court will be ‘a novelty for a non-anglophone country’.
The Belgian announcement is also the first to put the initiative explicitly in the context of Brexit, stating that Brexit will only increase the amount of litigation - and also that 'it will no longer be obvious that appeals should be made to a London court'.
The announcement makes no mention of fees for the new court, but presents the initiative as a boost for the economy as a whole. Justice minister Koen Geens, a lawyer and one of the founders of leading Belgian business law firm Eubilius, is quoted as saying: 'The judicial apparatus is not solely set up to protect the fundamental rights of our citizens. It can also serve as a good catalyst for our businesses and economic expansion.'
Gazette columnist Jonathan Goldsmith writes today that the interest in setting up English language courts reflects the dominance of English as the international commercial language - and the fact that countries are beginning to see the consequences of the rise of English in their national courts and legal systems.