Since July 1st 2014, the Commercial Court will no longer hear appeals against decisions taken by the Magistrate of the Justice of Peace

Since July 1st 2014, the Commercial Court will no longer hear appeals against decisions taken by the Magistrate of the Justice of Peace

With the Act of March 26, 2014 amending the Judicial Code and the Act of August 2, 2002 on the fight against late payment in commercial transactions, the purpose of which is to grant competence to the natural judge in various matters (BS, Belgian Official Journal May 22, 2014), Article 577, paragraph 2 of the Judicial Code was removed. This article stated that the Commercial Court has jurisdiction to hear appeals against decisions of the Magistrate of the Justice of Peace concerning disputes between merchants (and disputes relating to bills of exchange). Through the removal of this paragraph, the Commercial Court is no longer competent to hear appeals regarding decisions taken by  
Magistrates of the Justice of Peace.
 
In practice, this will have important implications for appeals against judgments of the Magistrate of the Justice of Peace, notably regarding commercial leases. All appeals against decisions of the Magistrate of the Justice of Peace submitted after July 1, 2014 will now have to be brought before the court of first instance, sitting in degree of appeal. Under the transitional provisions, appeals against a decision of the Magistrate of the Justice of Peace delivered before July 1, 2014 will still be brought before the Commercial Court (art. 16, Act of March 26, 2014).
 
In this context, one should be aware of the fact that the limits to file for appeal were also raised. The limit to file for an appeal against a judgment of the Magistrate of the Justice of Peace used to be 1.240,00 EUR, and has been raised to 1.860,00 EUR as of September 1, 2014. For judgments of the Court of First Instance and the Commercial Court, the limit has been raised from € 1,860.00 to €2,500.00 the border.    
 
Practically, this means that as of September 1, 2014, the decisions of the Magistrate of the Justice of Peace for claims not exceeding the amount of € 1,860.00, will be examined in last instance and therefore no further appeal can be lodged. The same applies to judgments of the Court of First Instance and the Commercial Court dealing with claims that do not exceed the amount of € 2,500.00.
 
Therefore, caution is recommended when filing for appeal.