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The statute of August 10 2001 on modifications of the Belgian of workmen's compensation insurance system was published in the Belgian Official Gazette of September 7 2001 and entered into force on September 17.

The Statute is a result of a judgment rendered by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) on May 18 2000. The ECJ condemned Belgium for excluding the workmen's compensation insurance from the freedom of service provisions as laid down in the second and third non-life insurance directives.

The Belgian government argued that it was entitled to do so because workmen's compensation insurance is part of the social security system, which has not been harmonized by European directives.

Although workmen's compensation insurance will fall under the scope of application of the statute of July 9 1975 on the supervision of insurance companies (like all other non-life and life insurers in Belgium), there are still important particular provisions to be taken into account.

First of all, workers compensation insurers remain subject to a partial supervision of the Fund for Labour Accidents (le Fonds d'Accidents du Travail). Furthermore, they have to set a bank guarantee to assure payments to the victims.

Finally, as in third party motor liability insurance, EU insurers will have to appoint a representative, residing in Belgium. The representative has the authority to represent the insurer in court and in its relations with the Belgian Supervisory Authority for Insurance Matters (l' Office Contrôle des Assurances). The statute, however, expressly states that the appointment of a representative does not constitute the opening of a Belgian branch.

Hugo Keulers

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