Abstract: This essay addresses the status of the Belgian Civil Code in the twenty-first century. If the French revision process should have a successful outcome, Belgium will be one of the last countries to use a nineteenth century code. Does Belgium also need a revision of its Civil Code, or are there suitable alternatives? If a revision is advisable, a more fundamental question arises: How can a revised Belgian Civil Code cope with the stratification of private law and the multiple challenges every European legal system faces today?
The first part of this essay briefly elucidates the challenges for the Belgian Civil Code. The second part looks for suitable responses, including (but not limited to) a possible revision of the aforementioned code. The third part will argue that a modernization of the Belgian Civil Code is essential to restore its central position in private law. Since two of the key advantages of codes are their durability and their comprehensive scope, a modern Belgian Civil Code’s content should be limited to concepts, basic principles, and general rules. Any attempt to offer an overview of private law in its entirety in a single civil code can only be detrimental to those two key advantages. Because of the limited powers of a national legislature, the further development of the law can only result from collaboration between many different actors. An unremitting emphasis on the facts underlying hard legal questions and on the legal discourse is a necessary element of such a collaborative contribution.
European Review of Private Law