World News

Brexit drives Belgium to set up English-language commerce court

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Belgium will set up an English-language commercial court to deal with disputes between international companies to make the most of Britain’s plan to leave the European Union.

The Brussels International Business Court (BIBC) will seek to take on cases that are so far handled by British courts or international arbitration tribunals, the Belgian government said on Friday. Cases in Belgium’s regular courts are heard in French or Dutch.

The government said the demand for arbitration was likely to grow because of Brexit. “The same Brexit means moreover that going to a court in London might not be an appropriate option,” it said, without giving a date for the start of the English-language hearings.

BIBC will be presided over by sector specialists and parties will have to agree in advance to let the court settle their differences. They will not be able to appeal against the decisions.

“The development of the European Union cannot be slowed down by Brexit. Our country uses this opportunity to offer a new judicial instrument,” Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said in a statement.

Some companies, such as Lloyd’s of London, the world’s largest specialty insurance market, have already picked Brussels as their European base in order to retain access to the EU market after Britain leaves the bloc in 2019.

Reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek; editing by Philip Blenkinsop and David Stamp