Conversion of an abolished legal form: when and with or without application of the conversion procedure?
The Company and Associations Code (CAC) reduces the number of legal forms and abolishes many of the currently existing legal forms. Within the category of companies without legal personality, the ‘tijdelijke handelsvennootschap’ (’société momentanée’) and the ‘stille handelsvennootschap’ (’société interne’) both disappear. Indeed, the same objective can be achieved through the form of the ‘maatschap’ (’société simple’), whether by setting up a ‘tijdelijke maatschap’ (’société simple momentanée’) for a limited period of time or a specific project, or a ‘stille maatschap’ (’société simple interne’) led by a manager who is acting in his own name. Within the category of companies with uncomplete legal personality (‘onvolkomen rechtspersoonlijkheid’/’personnalité juridique imparfaite’), the ‘coöperatieve vennootschap met onbeperkte aansprakelijkheid (CVOA)’ (‘société cooperative à responsabilité illimitée (SCRI)’) and the ‘economisch samenwerkingsverband (ESV)’ (‘groupement d’intérêt économique (GIE)’) disappear as they are similar to the ‘vennootschap onder firma (VOF)’ (‘société en nom collectif (SNC)’). The ‘landbouwvennootschap (LV)’ (‘société agricole (SAGR)’) is also abolished by the CAC. But in order to maintain the specific features of the ‘landbouwvennootschap (LV)’ (‘société agricole (SAGR)’) in terms of agricultural lease legislation and taxation, it continues to exist as individual accreditation, available for the ‘VOF’ (‘SNC’), ‘CommV’ (‘SCS’), ‘BV’ (‘SP’) and ‘CV’ (‘SC’). The ‘commanditaire vennootschap op aandelen (CommVA)’ (‘société en commandite par actions (SCA)’) is abolished as a legal form, but the specific features of this legal form can be obtained by setting up a ‘naamloze vennootschap (NV)’ (‘société anonyme (SA)’) with a sole director. The ‘vennootschap met sociaal oogmerk (VSO)’ (‘société à finalité sociale (SFS)’) has also been converted into an individual accreditation, only available for the ‘coöperatieve vennootschap (CV)’ (‘société cooperative (SC)’). The same applies for the category ‘beroepsvereniging’ (‘union professionnelle’) for which only the ‘VZW’ (‘ASBL’) can obtain the individual accreditation.
The legal forms that have been abolished, can no longer be incorporated as from 1 May 2019 onwards. The CAC foresees a transition period for the existing companies whose legal form has been abolished. These companies can continue to exist in their current form until 1 January 2024. At that date, they will be converted automatically into the closest corresponding legal form (please refer to the table below showing the corresponding legal forms). But please note that the mandatory provisions of their corresponding legal form (except some specific details regarding the ‘CommVA’ (‘SCA’)) – will already apply as from 1 January 2020.
CommVA (SCA) → NV (SA) with sole director
LV (SAGR) without silent partners → VOF (SNC)
LV (SAGR) with silent partners → CommV (SCS)
ESV (GIE) → VOF (SNC)
CVOA (SCRI) → VOF (SNC)
CVBA (SCRL) that is not corresponding to the new definition → BV (SP)
Beroepsvereniging (union professionelle) → VZW (ASBL)
Of course, companies whose current legal form has been abolished, can choose to convert before 1 January 2024. This option is even to be preferred in order to avoid confusion as the mandatory provisions of the corresponding legal form shown in the table above, will apply in any case as from 1 January 2020 onwards. The CAC provides that the conversion into the corresponding legal form shown in the table above, can be realized by amending the articles of association without having to apply the conversion procedure. Companies are also free to convert into another legal form than shown in the table above, but this can only be done by applying the conversion procedure stipulated in the Companies Code (this implies: statement of assets and liabilities, audit report by the (statutory) auditor/external accountant, report of the board, four fifths majority or unanimity).
Anneleen Steeno, intui attorneys