Bankruptcies on a monthly basis

December 2021: 706 bankruptcies

Enterprises
In December 2021, 706 bankruptcies were registered by the business courts. This is a 4.4% increase compared to November.

In December 2021, 706 bankruptcies were registered by the business courts. This is a 4.4% increase compared to November.

Statbel, the Belgian statistical office, also publishes a detailed report with the major developments of the monthly figures on bankruptcies. This report is available here (NL - FR).

The number of bankruptcies registered in December 2021 is higher than in the same month in 2020 (+44.4%) but is lower than in 2019 (-31.1%). 

At regional level, only the number of bankruptcies in the Flemish Region increased compared to November 2021 (+18.0%) while remaining, however, below the level of December 2019 (-10.1%).

While the number of bankruptcies increased compared to November 2021 in six economic sectors, none of these sectors saw a higher number of bankruptcies than in December 2019.

Besides, 240 bankruptcies were registered among the self-employed in December 2021 in Belgium. This is a record over the period 2000-2021, except compared to September 2019 (247). Finally, the number of 146 bankruptcies among the self-employed in December 2021 in the Flemish Region is the highest monthly value over the period 2000-2021 in this region.

As regards the number of job losses registered in December 2021, it amounts to 1,422, i.e. an increase of 26.5% compared to November 2021. It is also an increase compared to December 2020 (+2.8%) and a decrease compared to December 2019 (-24.2%). 

At regional level, the number of job losses increased compared to November 2021 in the Flemish Region (+73.0%) and in the Brussels-Capital Region (+53.2%). In the latter region, this is an increase compared to December 2020 (+77.0%), but a decrease compared to December 2019 (-21.5%). Conversely, in the Flemish Region, this figure represents a decrease compared to December 2020 (-11.3%) and an increase compared to December 2019 (+6.6%).

Finally, the number of job losses registered in December 2021 increased in 7 economic sectors compared to the previous month. Among them, only the sector ‘Transportation and storage’ also registered a figure higher than in December 2020 (+439.1%) and 2019 (+8.8%). However, this number does not constitute a record for the year 2021 in this same sector.

In addition to this press release and the supplementary report, Statbel also publishes more detailed monthly figures which can be broken down by municipality, by NACEBEL 2008 class or even dated back to the year 2009. These figures are available on be.STAT via the tab ‘Figures’ of this publication.

When interpreting the figures, account should be taken of the fact that there is a certain delay between the termination of the economic activity and the notification of bankruptcy by the business court. As a result, the economic impact is only reflected in the figures after a certain period of time.

Moreover, because of the Covid-19 crisis, many business courts and registries operated at reduced capacity and limited their activities until 18 May 2020. Furthermore, a Royal Decree leading to the freezing of bankruptcy proceedings before the courts was in force until 17 June 2020, in order to protect the enterprises that were healthy before 18 March 2020 from the effects of the Covid-19 crisis. 

Then, on Friday 6 November 2020, 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 amending the ministerial decree of 28 October 2020 on emergency measures to limit the spread of the coronavirus (Covid-19).

As compensation for the end of this second moratorium, the government implemented a reform based on 3 pillars in order to make the access to the procedure for judicial reorganisation more flexible. First, the procedure was simplified, by no longer requiring enterprises to give immediately 11 documents, but only 3. The other documents can be delivered during the procedure. Second, the procedure no longer requires a publication in the Belgian Official Journal, which allows the mediator to meet with creditors in complete discretion and thus prevent them from demanding the rapid repayment of their claims before an agreement has been reached. Third, the procedure for judicial reorganisation by amicable agreement are encouraged by a tax exemption that was until then only applied to procedures for judicial reorganisation by court order. The provisions relating to the first two pillars of the reform would initially be in force up to and including 30 June 2021, but were extended until 16 July 2022 by the Royal Decree of 24 June 2021 extending Articles 2, 4 and 12 of the law of 21 March 2021 amending Book XX of the Code of Economic Law and the Income Tax Code 1992.

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. This system also remained in force after 1 February 2021 until October 2021 as far as the NSSO is concerned, while it is still in force for the tax administration.

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

Finally, many measures are also currently 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 National Employment Office, the entire temporary unemployment due to the coronavirus can be considered as temporary unemployment due to force majeure ‘corona’ until 31.03.2022.

All these public measures described above have had a moderating impact on the number of bankruptcies declared since March 2020.

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.

Then, on Friday 6 November 2020, 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 amending the ministerial decree of 28 October 2020 on emergency measures to limit the spread of the coronavirus (Covid-19).

As compensation for the end of this second moratorium, the government implemented a reform based on 3 pillars in order to make the access to the procedure for judicial reorganisation more flexible. First, the procedure was simplified, by no longer requiring enterprises to give immediately 11 documents, but only 3. The other documents can be delivered during the procedure. Second, the procedure no longer requires a publication in the Belgian Official Journal, which allows the mediator to meet with creditors in complete discretion and thus prevent them from demanding the rapid repayment of their claims before an agreement has been reached. Third, the procedure for judicial reorganisation by amicable agreement are encouraged by a tax exemption that was until then only applied to procedures for judicial reorganisation by court order. The provisions relating to the first two pillars of the reform would initially be in force up to and including 30 June 2021, but were extended until 16 July 2022 by the Royal Decree of 24 June 2021 extending Articles 2, 4 and 12 of the law of 21 March 2021 amending Book XX of the Code of Economic Law and the Income Tax Code 1992.

Between the 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. This system also remained in force after 1 February 2021 until October 2021 as far as the NSSO is concerned, while it is still in force for the tax administration.

Moreover, the judicial summer recess takes place in the months of July and August. The courts remain open during this period, but the number of hearings are reduced. That is why the bankruptcy rates are lower in this period.

Finally, many measures are also currently 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 National Employment Office, the entire temporary unemployment due to the coronavirus can be considered as temporary unemployment due to force majeure ‘corona’ until 31.03.2022.

All these public measures described above have had a moderating impact on the number of bankruptcies declared since March 2020.

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.

Remarks

A bankruptcy always concerns one enterprise. A legal arrangement whereby several people have founded one enterprise, such as a partnership firm, can therefore only give rise to one bankruptcy

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