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Dispute settlement: What does the code of conduct say?

Handling of national disputes

Breaches of the principles of good practice

The following provisions apply when a dispute arises regarding an alleged breach of the principles of good practice. We make a distinction between individual disputes and aggregated disputes.

Individual disputes

Complainants are expected to engage all reasonable efforts to resort first to the procedures that are easier, faster and at lower cost to resolve their disputes.  The complainant may choose the method for the settlement of disputes.  Following modes, in ascending order of complexity, rapidness and cost, can be envisaged:

  • Commercial track
  • Contract options
  • Internal dispute resolution
  • Mediation/arbitration requiring the consent of both parties
  • "Jurisdictional" methods

Purchasers and suppliers are resolutely dedicated to the consultation model as a strategy to resolve disputes in their relations.

Aggregated disputes

The members of the partner organisations who have signed the code of conduct can report disputes from their daily practice to the responsible of their professional association.

The responsible of each professional association can request the Committee to analyse a dispute regarding a serious breach of the principles affecting several of its members. These types of disputes are called aggregated disputes. The Committee will use the basic principle "comply or explain" in its assessment. "Comply or explain" means that both purchasers and suppliers can - in their "declaration of fair relationships between suppliers and purchasers" - provide for derogations to the recommendations of this code as long as they clarify their policy on this.

Such complaints may be communicated by post, by mail or orally to the responsible of the complainant's professional association.

Handling of individual disputes by the Committee

The Committee deals with individual complaints in case of breach of process commitments. (examples of such breaches are: the lack of a contact in case of SMEs and LEs, the lack of indicating a responsible for receiving complaints in case of LEs, the lack of a procedure for dealing with complaints)

Such complaints may be communicated by post or by mail to the responsible of the plaintiff's professional organisation.

Handling of cross-border disputes

These can be tackled as well. If it is an aggregated complaint I can inform my professional association, who will bring the complaint to the “Committee” of the Belgian code of conduct. The “committee”, on its turn, will bring the complaint to the European governance committee who will investigate and give guidance and interpretation.