April 2018 – Major SABAM tariff rise succesfully disputed

We are very proud to announce Philip Walravens & Caroline Lebon have successfully assisted a series of clients of the music concert & festival industry in a litigation against SABAM, the Belgian Association of Authors, Composers and Publishers, in relation to the recent major rise in license tariffs.

In a decision of April 12th 2018, the Brussels Commercial Court has declared SABAM’s rise in tariffs to constitute an abuse of its dominant market position, and hence constitute an unfair market practice. This decision will have a large impact on all concerts & festival organizations in Belgium, and the decision was widely communicated in the press (De Standaard, De Tijd)

 

 

 

April 2018 – GDPR Roadshow in India

Florian De Rouck, member of our TMT / IP team team, participated to the Belgian trade mission focusing on IT, IP & Law in India from 25 to 31 March. The trade mission was organized by Brussels Invest & Expert (BIE). Florian spoke in Bangalore, Hyderabad & Chennai (known as India’s IT hub) on GDPR and its implications for Indian firms.

Indian companies are taking a particular interest in the EU practices in adopting the GDPR which is crucial for their EU clients, especially as the Indian government is also preparing a revised Indian data protection act with reinforced and new obligations similar to the EU regulation.

We are excited to deepen our relations in the fast-evolving Indian IT market, which has proven to be an excellent partner for EU firms in relation to a number of services.

 

April 2018 – VAT on immovable lease: back and forth

In the fall of last year, the government withdrew its project to subject immovable lease to VAT on option due to budget constraints.

Apparently, things have changed as, after the budget control of March 2018, the press release issued at that occasion announces that the measure will be taken with effect as from 1 October 2018.

Not so many details are available at this stage, but it seems that that the intention of the government is to make the option possible only:

  • for newly constructed or deeply renovated buildings;
  • if both the landlord and tenant agree to do so;
  • if the tenant is a VAT taxpayer including VAT exempt tenants such as insurance companies, financial institutions, etc.

Our Tax practice will keep you informed of the development as soon as rumours have changed into text.

Our fear is that such a limited scope of application creates a double real estate market detrimental to the readability of the sector of activity. Indeed, depending on the option is exercised or not (or can be exercised), the building investment cost will differ by 21%, which, in turn, will be reflected in the resale price in the future.

January 2018 – Caroline Lebon publishes updated overview of the principles of statutes of limitations in Belgian contract law

Caroline Lebon co-authored the update of her elaborate 2004 publication regarding the principles of statutes of limitations in Belgian contract law (published in the loose-leaf commentary “Artikelsgewijze commentaar verbintenissenrecht” – Kluwer).

More information regarding the publication may be found on: http://shop.wolterskluwer.be/shop/nl_BE/navigation/308/Bijzondere-Overeenkomsten.-Artikelsgewijze-commentaren?p=7500115299.

10 January 2018 – Belgium’s first step in GDPR implementation

As a first step in Belgium’s privacy reform, a new law was published today setting up a Belgian Data Protection Authority (replacing the current Belgian Privacy Commission) in anticipation of the future applicability of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). With this law, the Belgian Data Protection Authority acquires substantial investigative and judiciary powers, as well as new bodies which will be able to impose the sanctions introduced under the GDPR.

While the GDPR will provide for a greater degree of harmonization than the current regime , there are approximately 50 possibilities for Member States exceptions, additional requirements or specifications to the GDPR (e.g. in terms of processing of HR data, minimum age of children for consent, situations where a DPO is mandatory). These will be the subject of a separate piece of legislation, for which no draft is currently available.

October 2017 Update – Option to subject professional leasing to VAT initiative cancelled

Following up on our earlier post in September, we have meanwhile been informed that the Federal Government has ultimately decided past weekend to cancel the proposed introduction of an optional mechanism to subject professional leasing to VAT for notably budgetary reasons.

We believe this is highly unfortunate. The introduction of such a system could have drastically improved the competitivity of professional tenants towards foreign competitors and could have affected the real estate market on various fronts. Importantly, the system would have eliminated the need for complex structures to make the VAT-system applicable to a priori exempted transactions.

Notwithstanding the above, it cannot be excluded that the Federal Government may still introduce more minor changes to the existing real estate VAT regimes such as regarding the putting at the disposal of storage facilities. The discussions regarding these matters is still ongoing and other initiatives may still be developed.

Our Tax practice will keep you up date regarding these evolutions via our News section.

October 2017 – Major Reform of the Brussels Zoning & Town Planning Rules

On 13 October 2017, the Brussels Parliament voted the ordinance which will substantially modify the Brussels zoning and town planning rules (the so-called Code bruxellois de l’Aménagement du Territoire, in short “COBAT” / Brussels Wetboek Ruimtelijke Ordening, in short “BWRO”).

The text will be published in the Belgian State Gazette in the coming weeks and will probably enter into force in the course of 2018.

More news to come regarding this important reform.

September 2017 – Option to subject professional leasing to VAT

Bruno De Duve, who leads our Tax practice group, & Helene Mulier, summer intern, discuss in depth the recent legislative initiative of the Belgian Federal Government to allow the possibility to subject to VAT the mere letting of an immovable property to a business subject to VAT as of 1 January 2018. This draft bill may drastically improve the competitivity of professional tenants towards foreign competitors and may effect the real estate market on various fronts.

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