Association Internationale des Hautes Juridictions Administratives
International Association of Supreme Administrative Jurisdictions


Mr. Wilfried Van Vaerenbergh
 - First President
Conseil d'État, 33, Rue de la Science, Bruxelles, Bruxelles-Capitale, 1040, Belgique

1. National judicial organisation

Number of members

Thirty-six councillors of state including a First President, a President, ten Presidents of Chambers and twenty-four Councillors;
Sixty members of the Auditor's office, including a general auditor, an assistant general auditor, twelve first auditors heads of sections, six first auditors, auditors and assistant auditors;
A coordination office, made up of eighteen members, including two first chief clerks who are head of section, twelve first chief clerks and chief clerks assistant;
A registry, made up of twenty-four members, i.e. one chief registrar and seventeen registrars.



2. Exercising an administrative function corresponding to level 15, at least, or equivalent to it in a public Belgian administration or organization;
3. Having a Ph.D in law or having passed the "agrégation" examination in law;
4. Being a magistrate at the attorney general's office or an effective judge in Belgium;
5. Teaching law at a Belgian university.

At least one half of the State Councillors are nominated amongst the members of the auditor's office and of the coordination office.
The assistant auditors and the assistant referendaries must be at least twenty-seven years old; they need to have a law degree and to have at least three years of experience as magistrate, barrister, public servant or university teacher. They also have to be laureate of a competitive entry examination organized by the Council of State.
The functions are distributed evenly between holders of a degree in Dutch (language) and holders of a degree in French (language): the First President and the President, the General Auditor and the Assistant General Auditor must belong to different language groups.

Incompatibility with any other function, except teaching, membership of an examination jury, or membership of a consultative commission. The number of hours of these activities must be limited; the derogation is granted by the King on advice of the First President. A councillor of state may be invested of a special mission, outside the Council of State, by order of the King. It should last no longer than a year but it can be prorogued to six years. Achieving a mission in international institutions may be allowed by the King for a period of time which should not exceed the period of time spent within the Council of State; the members are granted leave of absence (hors cadre).
The parents and allies until the degree of uncle and nephew (included) cannot be simultaneously members of the Council of State without a derogation of the King. They cannot sit simultaneously, except in the General Assembly.


Internal organisation

Two sections :
- section of administration (contentious : judgments; non-contentious cases: advice to the ministers)
- section of legislation (opinions on bills, decrees or regulations)



The judgments pronounced until December 1994 are recorded in a compilation. The judgments pronounced afterwards are published on internet ( They are now recorded on CD-ROM.
There is a yearly report of activity and a four-year plan to solve the jurisdictional arears of work.



2. Jurisdictional attributions and advice

2.1. Court functions


The adjudication of actions for annulment is the main function of the section of administration. On the request of anyone who can justify a standing to sue, the section may annul regulations and unilateral acts from any administrative authority, including decisions of administrative jurisdictions. The illegality may be deducted from the violation of substantial forms or forms prescribed by statutes under penalty of nullity; it may also result from actions being ultra vires (détournement de pouvoir). Before ruling on the annulment of a regulation or an administrative act, the section can order, under certain conditions, that the carrying out of the contested regulation or act shall be suspended.

The jurisdiction of the Council includes also several matters like electoral litigations, disputes about the communal delimitation, compensation for exceptional prejudices (either material or moral), and a few particular litigations (access to administrative documents, mutual insurances...).

Organisation of the courts system

- in first and last instance ;
- judge of cassation towards the other administrative jurisdictions;
- judge of urgent matters in suspension and of temporary measures.

Power of the judge (annulment, reversal, compensation...)

Suspension, annulment.


2.2. Advisory functions

Existence and extent of an advisory authority

The governmental and parliamentary bills and the drafts of decrees and statutory instruments are submitted to the Council of State (section of legislation).
The Ministers and the members of the executives of the Communities and the Regions, may, as far as their own interests are concerned, submit to the opinion of the section of administration every administrative question or topic, that is not the object of a suit.

Authority and publication of advisory opunions

The opinions are published at the same time as the parliamentary document and are enclosed to them. As far as ministerial regulations are concerned, the opinions are enclosed to the reports to the King or the corresponding executive. In every other circumstances, they remain confidential.

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