Bankruptcies on a monthly basis

May 2022 : 943 bankruptcies

Enterprises
May 2022 : 943 bankruptcies

In May 2022, 943 bankruptcies were registered by the business courts. This is an increase of 52.1% compared to April 2022.

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 registered bankruptcies in May 2022 is higher compared to the same month in 2021 (+94.0%) and in 2020 (+249.3%) but lower than the number of bankruptcies in May 2019 (-2.2%).

In each region, this number is higher compared to April 2022, May 2021 and May 2020. Only in the Flemish Region does this number (523) also represent an increase compared to May 2019 (+24.8%) but a decrease compared to March 2022 (545).

The number of bankruptcies registered in May 2022 increased in seven sectors compared to April 2022. The sharpest increases in the number of bankruptcies were registered in the construction sector (+85.1%) and in other service activities (+74.2%). We have to go back to September 2014 to find a higher number of bankruptcies in the construction sector (212 vs. 211) and to March 2020 in other service activities (164 vs. 162).

The number of jobs lost due to bankruptcies in May 2022 was 1,892. This is an increase of 21.6% compared to April 2022. This also means an increase of 51.0% and 213.2% respectively compared to May 2021 and May 2020, but a decrease of 19.9% compared to May 2019.

At regional level, the number of job losses increased compared to April 2022 in the Brussels-Capital Region (+116.5%) and in the Flemish Region (+21.6%). In every region, this number represents an increase compared to May 2021 and May 2020, but it is only in the Flemish Region (1,001) that it is also higher compared to May 2019 (+3.1%) although lower compared to March 2022 (1,467).

Compared to April 2022, the number of jobs lost increased in four sectors. The sharpest increases in the number of job losses were registered in the construction sector (+97.4%) and in other service activities (+48.7%). In these two sectors, we have to go back to September 2021 (407 vs. 385) and June 2021 (524 vs.400) to find a higher number of job losses due to bankruptcies.

In addition to this press release and the supplementary report (NL - FR), 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 bankruptcy figures are available on be.STAT via the "Figures" tab of this publication.

When interpreting these 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 federal 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 immediately submit 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. This enables the mediator to meet with the creditors in complete discretion and thus prevent them from demanding a rapid repayment of their claims before an agreement has been reached. Third, the procedure for judicial reorganisation by amicable agreement is encouraged by a tax exemption which, 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 FPS Finance and the NSSO spared, by a de facto moratorium, enterprises by not declaring them bankrupt due to tax and social debts. This arrangement remained in place after 1 February 2021, until the NSSO resumed issuing summons from October 2021 and the tax authorities in various provinces around March 2022.

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 amicable payment plans with 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 or the conflict in Ukraine can be considered as temporary unemployment due to force majeure ‘corona’ until 30 June 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

An enterprise is bankrupt if two conditions are met: on the one hand, the enterprise has ceased to pay, i.e. it no longer pays its creditors. On the other hand, the loans to the enterprise have also stopped. In other words, the company has lost the trust of its creditors. The bank then refuses, for example, to grant it a new loan. A bankruptcy always concerns one enterprise. Thus, a legal arrangement in which several persons set up a company, such as a general partnership, can only lead to one bankruptcy.

Job losses

The loss of full-time and part-time jobs is provided by the NSSO. The job loss is determined on the basis of the last known situation of the enterprise, i.e. at the time of the bankruptcy. This total job loss consists of the sum of 3 separate categories (loss of full-time jobs + loss of part-time jobs + loss of jobs of salaried employers). Salaried employers are employers that pay themselves a salary. Information on the number of salaried employers is not available at the NSSO and consequently Statbel must make an estimate of it. For this, Statbel bases itself on the estimation rule that Eurostat cites in the document "OECD Manual on Business Demography Statistics" and this for the following 2 enterprise categories:

  • Self-employed (Type1): 1 salaried employer
  • Partnerships and other legal forms (Type3): 2 salaried employers

Based on the results of January 2022, after a thorough analysis of the legal forms available in Belgium, Statbel decided, in accordance with the international estimation rule mentioned above, to allocate 1 to 3 salaried employer(s) in limited liability companies (Type2) with retroactive effect, according to the Belgian legal provisions on the establishment of a company (previously "0" salaried employers were allocated). An identical approach is already used in other statistics (e.g. business demography, VAT-registered enterprises, etc.).

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