Declaration of claims

If a debtor goes bankrupt, his/her creditors must declare their receivable debts with the clerk of the district court within the deadlines set by the declaration of bankruptcy order.

Some receivable debts, such as salaries, are treated with priority so that they may be reimbursed first.

The trustee handling the bankruptcy verifies the receivable debts and distributes the business' assets according to the creditors' level of priority.

Who is concerned

Creditors whose debtor has been declared bankrupt must, regardless of the preferential ranking of their receivable debt, declare all receivable debts in good time so that they can be recorded as a liability of the bankrupt company.

The body of creditors, i.e. the creditors with whom the bankruptcy trustee (curateur) continues or starts contractual relations in the interests of all creditors after the declaration of bankruptcy order is issued, do not have to declare their receivable debts. The trustee pays them at maturity.
Examples: bankruptcy trustee fees, rents due after the declaration of bankruptcy, etc.

Salaried workers must declare their receivable salaries and allowances due by the employer after the bankruptcy.

Owners of certain goods, which have been entrusted to the bankrupt party, can also claim back these goods under certain conditions.

Movable tangible assets entrusted to the bankrupt party

Owners of movable tangible assets who have deposited such assets with the bankrupt party (for the purpose of storage or sale) may claim the assets to be returned provided they still are assets in kind at the time the bankruptcy proceedings open.

In other words, the bankruptcy trustee must be able to identify these goods.

If the bankrupt party has sold the goods before the bankruptcy proceedings opened, the owner may claim the amount of the sale or part of the amount that the buyer has not paid at the time of the declaration of bankruptcy.
However, this is not possible if the claimed assets were pledged or blocked as a guarantee, nor can they be subject to a financial collateral arrangement.

Intangible movable assets entrusted to the bankrupt party (including Cloud computing)

Owners of intangible assets (e.g. data stored on "Cloud" computing systems) or the persons who have entrusted them to the bankrupt party may claim these assets (at their own expense) if these can be separated from all other intangible movable assets at the time the bankruptcy proceedings open.

In other words, the bankruptcy trustee must be able to separate the data and files claimed from all other data and files.

If the bankrupt party has sold these goods before the bankruptcy proceedings opened, the owner may claim the amount of the sale or part of the amount that the buyer has not paid at the time of the declaration of bankruptcy.
However, this is not possible if the claimed assets were pledged or blocked as a guarantee, nor can they be subject to a financial collateral arrangement.

Movable assets sold with a retention clause

The seller of movable assets, who as documented in writing, remains the owner of the property until full payment, may claim the return of the goods within 3 months if they are assets in kind at the time the bankruptcy proceedings open, or if they can be recovered without damage from the item into which they have been incorporated.

If the bankrupt party has sold these goods before the bankruptcy proceedings opened, the owner may claim the price or part of the price that the buyer has not paid at the time of the declaration of bankruptcy.

Commercial papers and outstanding securities

The owner of securities which have not yet been paid for or of commercial papers he entrusted to the bankrupt party (in order to collect them or for specific payments) may claim them if they are found in kind at the time of the declaration of bankruptcy.

Preliminary steps

In order to ensure that the receivable debts are declared in time, creditors who are in doubt about the solvency of their debtor are advised to check as early as possible if their debtor has been declared bankrupt.

To declare their receivable debts, creditors must provide written proof of the receivable debt (invoice, court decision concerning the recovery of a debt, etc.).

How to proceed

Receivable debt declaration

In order for the claim to be taken into account, creditors must submit a receivable debt declaration to the clerk of the competent district court within the deadlines set by the bankruptcy order. This deadline cannot exceed 20 days from the court ruling. However, in reality, receivable debt declarations are very often submitted after this date.

The declaration must include:

  • the identity of the creditor, his profession, his domicile and his bank details;
  • the identity of the bankrupt party;
  • the amount and origin of the receivable debt;
  • the related liens, pledges or mortgages and corresponding official documents validating the claim;
  • the wording 'j’affirme que ma présente créance est sincère et véritable' ('I confirm that this claim is sincere and true').

The declaration must be signed by the creditor or by a proxy on his behalf.

It must be accompanied by supporting documents justifying the claim (e.g. invoice, salary slips, sentence, judgement, payment order sentencing the bankrupt party to pay the amount due, any other document which justifies the claim).

Creditors that do not submit a receivable debt declaration within the deadline fixed by the bankruptcy order cannot be included in the distribution ordered by the examining magistrate. However, they may declare and prove their claim up until the end of the distribution of the bankruptcy funds.

As a representative of the public treasury, the tax office is exempted from having to file a claim.

Preferential nature of certain claims

Preferential receivable debts

Preferential debts are listed according to the preferential ranking established.

The trustee settles the receivable debts according to their priority as listed hereafter (non-exhaustive list), before paying any other creditors:

  • legal costs;
  • debts owed to employees, namely:
    • outstanding salaries and allowances owed by the employer after the bankruptcy:
      The total sum of the following 3 amounts is limited to the amount due as if it had been a dismissal with notice from the date of the declaration of bankruptcy:
      • the salary for the month in which the bankruptcy took place;
      • the salary of the following month;
      • 50 % of the severance pay that would have been due in the event of a dismissal with notice;
    • where applicable, any outstanding salaries during the 6 months of work prior to the bankruptcy;
      Outstanding salaries dating back more than the last 6 months of work are not preferential debts, but are considered as unsecured debts, i.e. non-preferential debts.
  • claims from public administrations;
  • debts backed by mortgages;
  • all other debts backed by collateral.

"Super-preferential" debts owed to employees

If the business' available assets cannot cover the preferential debts within 10 days after the declaration of bankruptcy, the Employment Fund guarantees the payment of a part of the preferential debts owed to the salaried workers, which is way this type of debt is called a super-preferential debt.

The share of the debts not covered by the Employement Fund remains a preferential debt.

Applications must be submitted by the trustee or the salaried worker to the National Employment Agency (Agence pour le développement de l'emploi - ADEM).

Unsecured debts

Unsecured debts (i.e. non-preferential debts) all have the same ranking.

The trustee only pays them after the preferential debts have been settled. He then distributes the assets on a 'pro rata' basis, i.e. the ratio of each debt with the total amount of debt recorded as a liability.

Verification of claims and closure of the bankruptcy proceeding

The trustee verifies claims as and when they are submitted by matching all the documents provided by the creditors with the records in the accounts of the bankrupt party. The examining magistrate may also order the creditor or any other person able to provide information to appear in court.

If the claim is disputed, the bankruptcy trustee informs the creditor after closure of the claim verification report. Disputed claims are settled before the competent courts who will decide whether they are justified or not.

Justified claims are admitted as outstanding liabilities in the bankruptcy proceedings.

On the basis of the verification reports and the judgements handed down on disputed claims, the bankruptcy trustee definitively determines the liabilities of the bankrupt party and draws up a report on the bankruptcy and the probable result of the liquidation (planned distribution).

Before the bankruptcy proceedings are closed, a meeting of creditors is convened and the planned distribution is submitted for the approval of the examining magistrate.

Once the assets have been distributed according to the ranking of the creditors, the trustee edits the accounts and files a request with the court to declare the bankruptcy proceedings closed.

Forms / Online services

Déclaration de créance

Formulaire de déclaration de créance

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