Belgium accuses Switzerland over Sabena collapse

23rd December 2009, Comments 0 comments

Belgium has made an application to start legal proceedings against Switzerland over the collapse of its former national airline Sabena, the International Court of Justice said on Tuesday.

: court

THE HAGUE - Belgium accuses Switzerland of breaching an international convention by ignoring court rulings in a case between Sabena's former Belgian and Swiss shareholders.

Sabena collapsed in 2001 and the Belgian government amongst other shareholders sued Switzerland's SAirGroup and SAirLines in Belgium, alleging that they breached their contractual obligations and contributed to the fallen airline's demise by defaulting on payments.

A Brussels court in 2001 recognised wrongdoing by the Swiss stakeholders, but declined to award their Belgian counterparts any damages. Appeals are set to be heard next year.

But courts in Switzerland have also started hearing similar cases but have so far refused to take into account rulings made by Belgian judges.

Belgium argues that contracts concluded with its Swiss partners "provided for exclusive jurisdiction on the part of the Brussels courts in the event of dispute and for the application of Belgian law."

The ICJ must first decide if Belgium's claim is admissible before full legal proceedings can begin. The court only settles disputes between states and does not try individuals.


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