Payment term legislation in Belgium

In Belgium, payment terms are governed by the Act of 2 August 2002 on combating late
payment in commercial transactions. The Act of 2002 applies to all commercial transactions between undertakings or between undertakings and public authorities.

The Act of 2002 provides a general principle that, unless the parties have agreed otherwise, payment must occur within 30 days following the date of receipt of the invoice or of receipt of the products or services, whichever is late.

2. Is there a standard payment term set out in law? If so, what is it?

The standard payment term used for commercial transactions is 30 calendar days if no other payment term has been specified in the contract.

3. What are the circumstances in which parties may contractually agree to extend payment beyond the standard payment term?

Parties may contractually agree to extend or reduce the standard payment term provided that, taking into account all the circumstances of the case, this extended payment term is not “grossly unfair” to the creditor.

Moreover, enterprises cannot agree on payment terms exceeding 60 days if the creditor is a SME and the debtor is not a SME.

4. May an obligation beyond the standard payment term be evidenced in a PO?

The purchaser may deviate from the standard payment term in a PO. However, the payment term evidenced in the PO will only apply if the other party has accepted it. This acceptance can be explicit or implicit.  

In case of conflicting payment terms (i.e. a contradiction between the payment term evidenced in a PO and the general terms and conditions of the other party), the court may decide to (i) declare valid the terms communicated first; (ii) declare valid the terms last communicated; or (iii) decide that none of the parties’ terms and conditions apply, and the standard payment term will apply.

5. What are the penalties for breach of payment term in legislation?

  1. In case of late payment and unless the parties agreed otherwise, interest is due automatically from the day following the end of the period for payment and without the necessity of prior notice. The interest rate is currently 8%. The creditor shall also be entitled to claim reasonable compensation from the debtor for all relevant recovery costs incurred as a result of the latter's late payment.
  2. At the creditor's request, the court may revise an agreement between parties that is not in line with the provisions of the Act of 2002. The court cannot grant better protection to the creditor than the protection provided in the Act of 2002:
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Renaud Dupont
Managing Partner
Brussels