Corona in court: Judgements don’t go well for claimants in Covid-related cases


From an affront to civil liberties to contract bidding wars, people and companies alike are taking their Covid-related complaints to court

The public vs federal government

A Brussels court has thrown out a civil case filed by 196 members of the public, who complained that the coronavirus restrictions violated their fundamental rights and freedoms.

The judge at the Court of First Instance said that “no one has the subjective right to not comply with the law”. If the claimants – among them controversial personality Jeff Hoeyberghs – thought that the laws themselves were unjust, then they should have taken their case straight to the Council of State, the court said.

I’ll Be Bag vs defence ministry

Zaventem company I’ll Be Bag, meanwhile, has lost its appeal against the decision to give the federal facemask contract to Luxembourg firm Avrox and Ghent-based Tweeds & Cottons. The defence ministry ordered 15 million and three million masks respectively from these two suppliers.

I’ll Be Bag, a rival bidder, had appealed to the Council of State for the orders to be cancelled, claiming the winning suppliers had made unrealistic promises in terms of volume and delivery schedule. The complainant also took issue with the fact that Avrox’s 15 million masks can only be hand-washed at 30°C.

Trade fairs vs Security Council

Finally, a consortium of trade fair sector federations has served prime minister Sophie Wilmès and federal interior minister Pieter De Crem with a summons demanding that they apply the same rules to fairs as they do to other events when the next round of coronavirus measures is announced on 15 July.

The coronavirus exit strategy could see indoor events opening up to 800 people by 1 August. The regulation, however, stipulates that this size of an audience should be “seated”. This is impossible for public trade fairs, which usually take place in expo centres.

Febelux is asking that the term “sitting” be removed from the regulation to be confirmed on 15 July, on a pain of a €100,000 per day penalty. “Congresses, concerts, shopping centres, markets and fun fairs have all been able to open up again, but not trade fairs,” said the consortium in a statement. “For trade fairs, there is no relaunch date specified. The insecurity is total, with a risk of major job losses and bankruptcies.”

Photo ©Virginie Lefour/BELGA