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Brussels family court hearings postponed due to staff shortages

06:14 15/04/2024

Nearly half of all French-speaking family court hearings will be suspended between now and 30 June, the Brussels court of first instance has announced, due to a shortage of court clerks.

The court ordinance makes clear that only urgent cases – such as children’s rights of residence, child maintenance payments or divorce – will be dealt with in this three-month period.

Other issues, including cases dealing with inheritance and parentage (for example determining who is the mother or father of a child), will be postponed.

In this slowdown, new clerks are being trained to strengthen the workforce. For the moment, there are only 13 – and they need to cover 21 court rooms.

Kristine Hänsch, spokeswoman for the College of Courts and Tribunals, told Bruzz there were also “serious shortages” on the Dutch-speaking side, “but this has not led to any chambers being closed for the time being.”

The news comes after it was revealed in March that Brussels was also experiencing an acute shortage of justices of the peace.

There are 13 courts of first instance in Belgium (one for each judicial district and two in the Brussels district – one Dutch- and one French-speaking).

The court of first instance has jurisdiction over all disputes that are not assigned by law to other courts. It is subdivided into four sections: the civil court, the criminal court, the family court and the juvenile court.

Written by Liz Newmark