Court of First Instance (Belgium)


Court of First Instance (Belgium)

The Court of First Instance (Dutch: Rechtbank van eerste aanleg, French: Tribunal de première instance, German: Gericht erster Instanz) in Belgium consists of three divisions: the Civil Court, the Correctional Court and the Juvenile Court. There is a Court of First Instance for each Judicial Arrondissement.

Contents

Civil Court

The Civil Court consists of the civil chambers of the Court of First Instance. Each civil chamber consist of one or of three judges. The Civil Court deals in first instance with civil cases that exceed the competences of the Justice of the Peace, but it also hears appeals against decisions of Justices of the Peace in civil cases if the amount involved exceeds 1,860 euro. If the amount involved doesn't exceed 1,860 euro, no appeal against the decision of the Justice of the Peace is possible. The Civil Court also deals with divorces, cases regarding lineage, disputes regarding the execution of court decisions and rulings, the right of reply and tax returns. In addition, the Civil Court has jurisdiction over cases not explicitly assigned to another court. The Civil Court also has appellate jurisdiction with regard to decisions of the Police Court regarding compensation claims arising from traffic accidents.[1][2]

Decisions of the Civil Court, with the exception of decisions regarding appeals against decisions of the Justice of the Peace or the Police Court, can be appealed against to the civil chambers of the Court of Appeal. Decisions of the Civil Court regarding appeals against decisions of the Justice of the Peace of the Police Court can only be appealed against on points of law to the Court of Cassation.

Correctional Court

The Correctional Court consists of the correctional chambers of the Court of First Instance. Each correctional chamber consists of one or of three judges. The Correctional Court deals with misdemeanors and has appellate jurisdiction over decisions of the Police Court. It also deals with correctionalised felonies. Felonies are normally dealt with by the Court of Assize, but the Chamber of Indictment can take into account mitigating circumstances and "correctionalise" the felony, i.e. refer the case to the Correctional Court instead.[3]

The Correctional Court doesn't have jurisdiction with regard to offences related to traffic, which fall under the jurisdiction of the Police Court. It doesn't have jurisdiction with regard to political crimes and press-related crimes either as those crimes fall under the jurisdiction of the Court of Assize, with the exception of press-related crimes that were inspired by racism or xenophobia. The latter do fall under its jurisdiction.[4][5]

Decisions of the Correctional Court can be appealed against to the correctional chambers of the Court of Appeal, except in the case of appeals against decisions of the Police Court heard by the Correctional Court. Decisions of the Correctional Court regarding appeals against decisions of the Police Court can only be appealed against on points of law to the Court of Cassation.

Juvenile Court

The Juvenile Court has jurisdiction over most civil and criminal cases involving minors.[6][7]

References


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