New federal law on the continuity of enterprises: important role for (external) recognized bookkeepers, accountants, tax consultants and auditors

The law of 31 January 2009 on the continuity of enterprises and other related laws have recently been amended on several points. (External) recognized bookkeepers, accountants, tax consultants and auditors obtained new missions. Important is the detailed information obligation towards clients-companies which continuity is in jeopardy.

Information obligation towards the company

When an external accountant, tax consultants bookkeepers or recognized bookkeeper-tax specialist and auditor determine facts which can jeopardize the continuity of the company, they are obliged to inform the company, possibly through its management organ.

Information to the commercial court

When the company does not take the necessary measures within one month to guarantee the continuity of the company for 12 months, the external accountant, tax consultants or auditor can inform the President of the commercial court hereof in writing. The external recognized bookkeeper(-tax specialist) (the external members of the BIBF) should not make this notification.

Recommendations to the company

The judge can interrogate them - also the external recognized bookkeeper(-tax specialist) - to obtain information concerning the recommendations they have made to the company and the measures taken to guarantee the continuity of the company. The professional secrecy is in this case abolished (article 458 of the Criminal Law Code).

Next to thoroughly informing on the jeopardized continuity the professional will also make recommendations to guarantee the continuity. A written report will be useful in order to avoid professional responsibility. The client-company in jeopardy will confirm in writing to be thoroughly informed on the possible threats to the continuity of his company.

Request for judicial reorganization

When the client-debtor in jeopardy makes a request to the commercial court to start the judicial reorganization procedure, the professional appears again.

The judicial reorganization request should be accompanied by an accounting statement of assets and liabilities and a profit and loss statement of maximum three months old. This accounting statement should be drafted under supervision of a recognized external bookkeeper(-tax specialist), accountant or auditor.

Also the necessary financial plan with an estimate of income and costs for the period of the reorganization should be drafted with the help of a recognized external bookkeeper(-tax specialist), accountant or auditor. The King can impose a model of the financial plan upon advice of the Accounting Standards Commission.

Source: Law of 27 May 2013 amending several laws on the continuity of companies (Belgian Official Gazette of 22 July 2013). The law enters into force on 1 August 2013, save some exceptions.