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Home >> Expertise >> Belgium >> Civil legal expert examination in Belgium

Civil legal expert examination in Belgium

Extract from the final Eurexpertise report

All rights reserved EEEI © 2012

Contributing correspondents

  • Ghislain LONDERS, First President of the Court of Cassation
  • Steven LIERMAN, Referendary Councilor at the Court of Cassation,
  • Alain HENDERICKX, Lawyer

Author

  • Etienne CLAES, Expert, EEEI Treasurer

Other administrative order

YES

I. Procedural rules in calling for an expert examination

I. 1) On the initiative of

The burden of evidence is on the litigant who requests the discharge of an obligation or on the one who claims to be freed from it.

The judge has the power to order an expert examination at his discretion, unless the law mandates it unilaterally, or if one of the litigants requests it.

The judge can mandate the experts to carry out observations or give a technical opinion to help solve litigation he has to rule, or he can order an expert examination on a precautionary basis, in case of a genuine and objective threat to litigation to preserve the evidence of facts which could determine the outcome of this litigation.

The judge decides if the expert examination is strictly necessary.

The judge limits the choice to what is sufficient to solve the litigation, by favouring the simplest, fastest and least costly measure.

The litigants can jointly oppose to the mandating of an expert examination.

The litigants can request a private expert examination but its scope is usually smaller, especially since there is no contradictory procedure.

I.2) Mandatory expert examinations

YES, provided for by law

I.3) Decision-maker

The judge

I.4) Is a pre-trial expert examination possible ?

YES, as a precautionary measure

II. Choice and appointment of the expert(s)

II. 1) Register

There is no official register of legal experts in spite of attempts by expert associations to establish expert accreditation.

II. 2) Oath

For each mission

II. 3) Choice of the Expert

The expert is chosen according to his experience, his knowledge and the reputation he has in a specific field.

The expert can be an employee, an independent worker, a civil servant or a public entity.

II. 4) Participation by the parties in the appointment process

The litigants can give their opinion when appointing an expert ; it will usually be followed if the litigants agree.

The judge cannot interfere with the litigants’ choice without arguing his decision.

II. 5) Nationality

It seems the expert must have a European Union nationality.

II. 6) Recusal by the litigant parties

The experts can be recused for the same reasons as judges, especially lack of impartiality and conflict of interest.

The expert chosen by the litigants can only be recused for causes which have appeared or been known after his appointment.

II. 7) Expert’s withdrawal (refusal of a mission)

The expert who knows he is in a situation to be recused must warn the litigants and withdraw, unless they exempt him from it.

II. 8) Possibility of adding another expert

The judge can also appoint a college of experts if the situation calls for it.

II. 9) Possibility of being assisted by a colleague

The expert can be assisted by technical advisers.

The judge must mention if the expert needs to be assisted in his decision to order an expert examination.

III. Definition of the expert’s mission

III. 1) Who determines the mission ?

The judge

III. 2) Type of mission

Expert examinations, observations, consultations, etc…

IV. Progress of the expert’s mission

IV. 1) Judge supervision

Any contestation relative to the expert examination which happen during it, between the litigants or between the litigants and the experts, including the request to replace the experts, and any contestation relative to the extension or the widening of the mission, are dealt with by the judge.

If the judge does not find sufficient information in the report, he can order either a supplementary expert examination to be carried out by the same expert, or a new expert examination to be carried out by another expert.

The judge who ordered the expert examination or the judge appointed to this effect follows the expert’s mission progress and ensures that the deadlines are met and the contradictory procedure takes place.

The experts carry out their mission under supervision of the judge who can at anytime, unilaterally or at the request of the litigants, assist in operations.

If one of the litigants requests it, the judge can replace the expert who is not fulfilling his mission. If both litigants jointly request it, the judge must replace the expert.

The expert sends the judge, the litigants and the counsels a provisional report every six months on the progress of his work.

The judge can push back the deadline for the final report to be submitted following an argued request by the expert.

IV. 2) Form of contradictory procedure

In a civil case, the litigants must collaborate with the expert examination. Otherwise, the judge can infer what he will.

The expert examination cannot be opposed by the litigant required in a forced intervention after the expert sent his provisional opinion, unless the litigant gives up thanks to the un-opposability.

The expert attempts to conciliate the litigants, and notes that his expert opinion has become pointless if it works out.

IV. 3) Participation in the hearing

If the litigants request it, the judge can hear their technical advisors.

The just can hear the expert during the hearing, a decision made unilaterally or after the request of one of the litigants.

V. Close of the expert examination

V. 1) Does conciliation put an end to the expert’s mission ?

YES

V. 2) Form imposed on the report

The report must be written.

V. 3) Does the report put an end to the expert’s mission ?

The expert’s mission normally ends when he submits his final report.

V. 4) Is there an imposed structure for the report ?

The final report is dated and mentions the presence of the litigants during the work, their oral statement and their requisitions. It also has a list of documents and notes provided by the litigants to the expert, and can only reproduce them inasmuch as it is relevant to his opinion.

The expert can then provide precision to his report during the hearing, both in civil and criminal matters.

V. 5) Is a preliminary report mandatory ?

YES

V. 6) Is the judge bound by the expert’s conclusions ?

The judge is not bound by the expert’s conclusions, even if the conclusions are most often followed.

The judge can decide what kind of evidence is held by the expert examination.

V. 7) Possibility of a second opinion

In theory yes, the judge is not bound to follow the expert’s opinion.

VI. Funding for the expert examination

In civil proceedings, there is no pricing of the expert’s fees and expenses.

VI. 1) Security-Payment

The judge decides the payment of a security, the payment deadline and the litigant(s) who should pay it.

VI. 2) Determining the amount of payment due

If the expert considers the security or the available part insufficient, he can ask the judge to deposit an additional security or to authorise more of the security to be made available.

Increased availability is also allowed to cover a reasonable part of the expected expenses for the work that has already been carried out.

VI. 3) Possibility of additional payment

YES

VI. 4) Determining fees and costs

The expert draws up a detailed list of expenses and fees.

If the expert does not submit his expenses and fees, or if the litigants do not agree on the amount of the expenses and fees being claimed by the experts, these are taxed by the judge without prejudice to possible damages.

There is no consensus as to whether the judge can have an opinion or whether he must accept as is the list submitted by the expert if the litigants agree to it, or are late in contesting it.

When closing the trial, this amount will be taxed as legal costs.

After final imposition, the Security is taken out by the experts from the amount which they are owed. The possible remains is promptly reimbursed to the litigants by the clerk according to the pro-rata of the amount they were supposed to pay down and the amount they effectively paid.

The expert can only receive a direct payment after their list of expenses and fees was completely taxed, and as long as the security payment was insufficient.

VI. 5) Possibility of contesting the fees

YES

VII. Expert liability within proceedings

VII. 1) Are there any laws governing expert examinations ?

YES

VII. 2) Expert liability

The expert is civilly liable while he carries out his mission.

The expert’s criminal

liability can be involved under common offenses which specifically apply to experts, especially if he has falsified his writer reports or oral presentations or accepted a direct payment of one of the litigants involved, knowing it is forbidden, or under ordinary law.

VII. 3) Mandatory insurance for the expert

NO

VIII. The expert’s status

The Judicial Code does not mention the question of the expert’s status.

VIII. 1) Existence of selection criteria (accreditation)

Not applicable

VIII. 2) Classification of skills

Not applicable

VIII. 3) Required qualifications

Not applicable

VIII. 4) Grant of accreditation

Not applicable

VIII. 5) Possibility of accrediting a legal person

It appears that a legal person cannot be appointed, since the rules to recuse an expert cannot apply to them.

VIII. 6) f) Validity period for the accreditation

Not applicable

VIII. 7) Regular assessment tests

Not applicable

VIII. 8) Supervision of the expert’s mission

Not applicable

VIII. 9) Expert’s activity report

Not applicable

VIII. 10) Code of ethics

Not applicable

VIII. 11) Good practice

Not applicable

VIII. 12) Possibility of penalties

VIII. 13) Laws governing the expert’s status

NO

IX. Bibliography

Works (August 2010)

H. BOULARBAH (ed.), Le nouveau droit de l’expertise judiciaire en pratique. Commentaires de la loi du 15 mai 2007 modifiant le Code judiciaire en ce qui concerne l’expertise et rétablissant un article 509quater dans le Code pénal, Reeks Unité de droit judiciaire de l’ULB, Brussel, Larcier, 2007, 183p.

M. CASTERMANS, De hervorming van het deskundigeNO derzoek, Gent, Story Publishers, 2007, 95p.

A. CLOQUET, DeskundigeNO derzoek in zaken van privaat recht, Algemene Praktische Rechtsverzameling, Gent, Story-Scientia, 1988, 255p.

D. DE BUYST, P. KORTLEVEN, T. LYSENS (eds.), Bestendig Handboek deskundigeNO derzoek, Mechelen, Kluwer, losbl., 2 delen, z.p..

G. DE LEVAL en B. TILLEMAN (eds.), Gerechtelijk deskundigeNO derzoek. De rol van de accountant en de belastingconsulent, Recht en onderneming, Brugge, Die Keure, 2003, 593p.

B. DE SMET, DeskundigeNO derzoek in strafzaken, Algemene Praktische Rechtsverzameling, Antwerpen, Kluwer, 2001, 373p.

J. GILLARDIN en J. JADOUL (eds.), L’expertise, Reeks Travaux et Recherches, Publications des Facultés Universitaires Saint-LYESs, Brussel, 1994, 245p.

E. GULDIX (ed.), DeskundigeNO derzoek in privaatrechtelijke geschillen, Antwerpen, Groningen, Intersentia, 2000, 238p.

G. KEUTGEN en G. DAL, L’arbitrage en droit belge et international. Tome I en II, Brussel, Bruylant, 2006, 670p.

J. LAMBERS en K. VANDENBERGHE, DeskundigeNO derzoek – Gerechtelijke aanwijzing, in X, Bijvoorbeeld. Modellen voor het bedrijfsleven, Mechelen, Kluwer, losbl., z.p.

T. LYSENS en L. NAUDS, DeskundigeNO derzoek in burgerlijke zaken, Recht en praktijk, Antwerpen, Kluwer, 2005, 289p.

T. LYSENS, Het deskundigeNO derzoek, Reeks Advocatenpraktijk – Gerechtelijk Recht, Mechelen, Kluwer, 2007, 68p.

P. LURQUIN, Traité de l’expertise en toutes matières, Boek I, Brussel, Bruylant, 1985, 480p., Boek II, Brussel, Bruylant, 1987, 390p.

P. LURQUIN, Précis de l’expertise du Code judiciaire en matière civile, commerciale et du travail, Brussel, Bruylant, 2001, 218p.

O. MIGNOLET, L’expertise judiciaire, Brussel, Larcier, 2009, 218p.

D. SCHEERS en P. THIRIAR, Het gerechtelijk recht in de hoogste versnelling ? Eerste artikelsgewijze commentaar bij de Wet van 26 april 2007 tot wijziging van het Gerechtelijk Wetboek met het oog op het bestrijden van de gerechtelijke achterstand en bij de Wet van 15 mei 2007 tot wijziging van het Gerechtelijk Wetboek betreffende het deskundigeNO derzoek en tot herstel van artikel 509quater van het Strafwetboek, Antwerpen, Intersentia, 2007, 222p.

P. SOURIS, Manuel d’expertise judiciaire, Brussel, Creadif, 2007, 258p.

P. TAELMAN, Het deskundigeNO derzoek in burgerlijke zaken, cursus Post Academische Vorming Gerechtelijk Expert, 2007-2008, onuitgeg.

J. VAN COMPERNOLLE en B. DUBUISSON, L’expertise, Brussel, Bruylant, 2002, 267p.

Vlaamse Conferentie der Balie van Gent, Aanneming en expertise, Antwerpen, Maklu, 1998, 189p.

www.febex.be

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Institut Européen de l’expertise et de l’expert
Mailing address  : EEEI Jean-Raymond LEMAIRE, 38, rue de Villiers - 92532 Levallois-Perret cedex - France Tel : +33(0)1 41 49 07 60 - Fax : +33(0)1 41 49 02 89