As judicial officers are the only ones who can legally perform certain duties they have a monopoly position in their capacity as a public official. Consequently, they need to adhere to specific statutory rates.
The fees that judicial officers may charge for these assignments are binding and cannot be subject to negotiation or discount, at any rate.
The Belgian Royal Decree (“Arrêté Royal”) of 30 November 1976 establishes the fees judicial officers can charge in civil and commercial matters. These are, on the one hand, the fees judicial officers may charge, i.e. staggered fees, fixed duties, proportionate fees and service fees, but also their disbursements, out of pocket expenses and travel costs have been determined.
In addition, the Permanent Council of the Belgian National Board of Judicial Officers lays down an inter-professional rate for disbursements related to new (official or other) transactions that may be performed by judicial officers since the entry into force of the Royal Decree, and are hence not yet covered by this Decree. This is to put an end to certain subjective or arbitrary rates.
In accordance with Article 1024 of the Belgian Judicial Code, judicial officers will always try to recover the costs incurred as part of their intervention from the debtor. If they cannot pay these costs because they are insolvent, the judicial officer’s principal will have to pay these costs – after all, the fees cannot be waived. The importance of having a cost-efficient working method should therefore not be underestimated.
Aside from their court duties, established by Article 516 of the Belgian Judicial Code, judicial officers also have a wide range of out-of-court activities which they can perform, including the amicable recovery of debts and drawing up official records of findings. The statutory fee does not apply to these assignments and the costs have to be negotiated with the client.
Since 1 January 2012, judicial officers are subject to VAT.
The fees for all works performed by a judicial officer have therefore increased by 21% since that date.