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The "Peters-Borsus Act"

 

 

 

Since 1 July 2018 , the Peeters-Borsus Act* has been in force. This law stipulates that all architects, contractors and other service providers in the construction sector are obliged to take out ten-year liability insurance.


On 1 July 2019, the Peeters-Ducarme Act entered into force. It supplements the Peeters-Borsus Act and introduces compulsory insurance for intellectual professions in the construction sector. 

What exactly does the law entail?

The Peeters-Borsus Act obliges all actors involved in the structural works to insure their civil liability for a period of 10 years after acceptance of the works. This decenal insurance is limited to damage related to the solidity, stability and watertightness of the home when these endanger the solidity and stability of the home. The law applies since 1 July 2018 to works in immovable condition for which the final urban planning permit was issued after the entry into force of the law.

Why this law?

Before the Peeters-Borsus Act came into force, only architects were obliged to insure their ten-year liability. Contractors, project developers and other service providers in the construction sector did not have an insurance obligation, while they do have a comparable liability. That distinction was challenged before the Constitutional Court in 2007. With the Peeters-Borsus Act, the legislator has put an end to this discrimination.

At the same time, the law provides better protection for the client. Where he could no longer claim compensation as soon as, for example, the liable contractor went bankrupt, he is certain of the right to compensation for ten years thanks to the Peeters-Borsus Act.

Who is subject to the application of the new law?

  • Architects

  • Contractors and service providers who are listed as contractors in the explanatory notes to the bill and who carry out works that fall under the term 'shell construction': the contractor who places the foundations, the roofer, the installer of the windows and doors, the person who performs screed work, the plumber, …

  • Other service providers in the construction sector (such as engineering firms)

 

Limited scope

In order to keep the cost increase in the construction sector under control, the obligation to take out insurance has been limited. The main provisions and restrictions:

  • The law only applies to homes located in Belgium that are mainly intended for individual housing. For example, the following constructions are not covered for various reasons: rooms for students and seasonal workers, monasteries, hospitals, asylums, collective housing, ... 

  • Only the ten-year liability must be insured.

  • Various forms of damage are excluded: aesthetic damage, purely immaterial damage, material damage for less than 2,500 euros, …

  • The guarantee has a (theoretical) upper limit of 500,000 euros, even if the value of the reconstruction exceeds 500,000 euros.

  • For contractors, insurance is only mandatory for sites where the intervention of an architect is required by law.

 

What about the burden of proof?

All construction professionals must be able to prove that they have ten-year liability insurance. 

  • For architects, this is done through the Order of Architects. Every year, this body receives a list of insured architects from the insurers. In addition, the architect is assigned an important control task: he will have to check whether all actors on the site have a certificate proving their ten-year liability insurance.

  • Contractors and other service providers therefore have an active burden of proof: they must provide an insurance certificate to the architect and the client before they are allowed to start building work. The contractor also submits this certificate to the National Social Security Office.

If the construction of the house is financed with a loan, the client must provide the credit institution with a certificate proving that the architect, contractors and other service providers are insured.

When the house is sold before the end of the ten-year liability period, the civil-law notary must ensure that the insurance certificate is delivered to the buyer.

 

Fine up to 10,000 euros

Architects, contractors and other service providers who do not respect the law can be punished with a fine of 26 to 10,000 euros.

 

* This law appeared in the Belgian Official Gazette on Friday 9 June 2017 as the “law of 31 May 2017 on the mandatory ten-year civil liability insurance for contractors, architects and other service providers in the construction sector of works in immovable condition and this amending the law of 20 February 1939 on the protection of the title and profession of architect”.

Van Dessel - Insurance Brokers


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