In 1972, Belgium integrated into its legislation the European Convention on Arbitration (signed January 20, 1966 in Strasbourg). It became the Sixth Part of the Judicial Code (Articles 1676-1723).1
The provisions on arbitration were subsequently modified by the law of March 27, 1985, which eliminated any possibility of setting aside an award made in Belgium when none of the parties was an individual having Belgian nationality or residence, or a legal person having its main office or seat of operation in Belgium.2
This statute did not have the expected success. It seems that with notable exceptions, such as the Euro-Tunnel arbitration, the 1985 reform has dissuaded rather than encouraged parties to choose Belgium as the seat of their arbitration. The Belgian legislature has therefore decided to replace this provision by an opting-out system. This is one of the main purposes of the law of May 19, 1998 (Doc. Chambre-1374/1 to 6-97/98) which entered into force on August 17, 1998.
The law contains many other amendments, which will be described hereinafter. The aim of the Belgian lawmakers was to further promote Belgium, capital of Europe, as a center of transnational arbitration.