Belgium has no unique and integrated law dealing with leasing. Several laws define the legal framework but sometimes lack in harmony. Amongst these law, are:
Royal Decree n° 55 dated November 10 1967
Although leasing dates back to 1961, it took until November 10, 1967 for the Royal Decree n° 55 to give it a legal existence. This Decree, still in force today, gives leasing its legal name 'location-financement', sets out the rules that govern it and lays out the requirement for a Ministry of Economy seal of approval to exercise this profession.
The Royal Decree n° 55 calls for the following commentaries :
- It only deals with movable assets leasing.
- It forbids leasing contracts from being signed with a private person as the leased equipment has to be used for professional purposes only. This creates a problem for dual purposes equipement such as cars. In practise, however, car leasing for both personal and professional uses has been allowed.
- It gives leasing a very restrictive definition, limiting it to full pay out financial leasing. Contracts that do not fall within these criteria are classified as rental contracts, thus falling within the Civil law.
- A company only dealing with operational rental is not concerned with this Royal Decree and therefore does not require the Ministry of Economy seal of approval.
Goverment law dated February 23 1968
A few months later, this law defined the conditions companies had to fulfill to get the above seal of approval.
Royal Decree dated December 30 1991
This Decree introduced new rules regarding the accounting and fiscal aspects of sale and lease back operations. This put an end to the fiscally attractive operations that had flourished during the prior years : fully written off assets were being sold and leased back, thus creating a tax proof revaluation on the one hand, and tax deductible new depreciation of the revaluated asset on the other hand.
Royal Decree n° 30 dated 29 December 1992
In application since 1st January 1993, this determines the conditions that real estate leasing operations must comply with in order to fall within the VAT law (article 44§3 of the VAT code). Although this Royal Decree only deals with VAT, it is of great importance for real estate leasing and most contracts are established according to its dispositions.
Royal Decree dated 3 December 1993
This Royal Decree was published on December 23 1993 and deals with Companies annual reports. It took effect from 1 January 1994 and partly deals with leasing operations ( for both movable and immovable assets). It defines a new approach for movable assets leasing accounting.