Bankruptcies on a monthly basis

7,203 bankruptcies resulted in 17,882 job losses in 2020

Enterprises
7,203 bankruptcies resulted in 17,882 job losses in 2020

489 enterprises were declared bankrupt in Belgium in December 2020.

Bankruptcies registered in December resulted in 1,383 job losses: 621 full-time jobs, 567 part-time jobs and 195 salaried employers.

The sectors with the highest numbers of bankruptcies in December: 161 bankruptcies in transportation and other service activities, 114 in construction, 108 in wholesale and retail trade and 77 in accommodation and food service activities.

At regional level, there were 257 bankruptcies in Flanders, 135 in Wallonia and 97 in Brussels.

Analysis of the evolution of the number of bankruptcies and job losses in 2020

In 2020, 7,203 enterprises were declared bankrupt by the business courts. This is a 32.0 % decrease compared to 2019, where 10,598 bankruptcies were registered. Therefore, the year 2020 becomes the first year with the lowest number of bankruptcies since 2005.

This sharp decrease in 2020 is mainly due to the measures taken during the Covid-19 period to protect enterprises.

Indeed, a moratorium on bankruptcies, which protected enterprises that were healthy before 18 March 2020 from the effects of the Covid-19 crisis, was in force until 17 June 2020.

From 6 November onwards and due to the second wave of coronavirus, the government approved a new moratorium on bankruptcies until 31 January 2021 in order to protect enterprises that were obliged to temporarily close their doors following the ministerial decree published on 1 November 2020.

Between these two moratoriums, the tax administration and the NSSO spared, by a de facto moratorium, enterprises by not declaring them bankrupt due to tax and social debts.

Moreover, because of the Covid-19 crisis, many business courts and registries operated at reduced capacity and limited their activities until 18 May 2020.

Moreover, as every year, there was the judicial recess in July and August. Courts remained open during this period but the number of hearings was reduced.

Finally, many measures have been in force - at federal, regional and local level - to support enterprises in these times of crisis. For example the NSSO granted voluntary payment plans for a maximum duration of 24 months for the payment of all contributions and sums due for the year 2020. At the level of the FPS Finances, enterprises encountering financial difficulties due to the spread of the coronavirus could ask for support measures until 31 March 2021.

Purpose and brief description

Every month, Statbel calculates the bankruptcy figures for the previous month. The figures are published around 15 days after the reference month. On this date, the bankruptcy figures are final. In addition to the monthly figures, Statbel can also make interim weekly estimates. These weekly figures make it possible to quickly observe the first trends. In addition to the figures on the number of bankruptcies, Statbel also always calculates the related job losses. For the job losses, Statbel uses the latest information available from the NSSO.

The bankruptcy statistics produced by Statbel are based on data from the Crossroads Bank of Enterprises (CBE) and the statistical business register. When interpreting the figures, account should be taken of the fact that there is some delay between the cessation of the economic activity and the declaration of bankruptcy by the business court. As a result, an economic impact is only visible in the figures with some delay.

Because of the measures taken during the Covid-19 crisis and the related lockdown, business courts and registries limited their activities until 18 May 2020. Furthermore, until 17 June 2020, a temporary moratorium was in force in order to protect the enterprises that were in good health before 18 March 2020 against the consequences of the Covid-19 crisis.

From 6 November 2020 onwards and due to the second wave of coronavirus, the government approved a new moratorium on bankruptcy proceedings until 31 January 2021 and committed itself to working on a new, simpler, faster and more efficient procedure for judicial reorganisation, always with the objective of creating the conditions for the continuity of enterprises in difficulty.

Between these two moratoriums, the tax administration and the NSSO spared, by a de facto moratorium, enterprises by not declaring them bankrupt due to tax and social debts.

Moreover, there was the judicial recess in July and August. Courts remained open during this period but the number of hearings was reduced. This is why our figures on bankruptcies are usually lower during this period.

Many measures are in force - at federal, regional and local level - to support enterprises in these times of crisis. For example the NSSO grants voluntary payment plans for a maximum duration of 24 months for the payment of all contributions and sums due for the year 2020. At the level of the FPS Finances, enterprises encountering financial difficulties due to the spread of the coronavirus can ask for support measures until 31.03.2021.

All these public measures described above have had a moderating impact on the number of bankruptcies declared since March.

Population

Enterprises subject to the law of 11 August 2017 adding a new Book XX ‘Insolvency of Enterprises’ to the Economic Law Code, and introducing the definitions specific to Book XX and the implementing provisions specific to Book XX in the Book I of the Economic Law Code, as published in the Belgian Official Journal on 11 September 2017. Title VI of Book XX contains the rules on bankruptcy.

Frequency

Monthly

Timing of publication

The publication of the monthly bankruptcy figures takes place around 15 days after the reference month.

Definition

Bankruptcy

A bankruptcy is pronounced as soon as an enterprise meets two conditions:

  • The enterprise is no longer able to pay its bills;
  • The enterprise does not find any new credits.

A bankruptcy always concerns one enterprise. A legal arrangement in which several persons have set up the same enterprise is counted as one bankruptcy.

Job losses

Statbel calculates the job losses related to a bankruptcy based on the latest information available from the NSSO.

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