Pursuant to the article 608 of the Judicial Code, the Court tries cases that were judged in last instance and were then referred to the Court due to the contravention of the law or due to the violation of forms which are either substantial or prescribed under penalty of nullity. While the first and second degrees of jurisdiction apply the law to the facts that shall be presented to them by the parties, the Court of Cassation is the judge of the attacked ruling made in last resort: is it adequately motivated? Does it comply with the law ? Does it apply and interpret correctly the rule of law? Does it respect the reach of an act that was submitted to the judge?
The appeal in cassation is a specific procedure which only gives the right to the Court of cassation to assess a ruling which was given in last resort and either breaks the rule of law or violates the law.
Where appropriate, after the attacked ruling has been quashed, the Court of cassation orders the case to be sent back and the facts re-judged by the competent court.
To control and coordinate the application of the law. Referred to by an appeal in cassation, the court analyses the legality of the rulings and does not know of the facts of the case.
The Court of Cassation is presided by a first president. On top of this, it includes one president, six presidents of section and twenty-two advisers.
The Court counts 3 chambers
The civil chamber which administers the civil, administrative, tax, commercial and disciplinary cases.
The criminal chamber
The chamber in charge of social matters
Each chamber is divided in two sections, one for French cases and one for Dutch cases.
Usually, a chamber is made of 5 judges. For easier cases, 3 judges are enough.
During a plenary audience, the chamber is made of 9 members. This happens whenever the chamber knows of a case which requires both sections to be present in order to ensure the consistency in case law.
When the Court is in session as a full court, meaning all chambers sit together, all judges are supposed to attend the hearing. However, the number of judges must be uneven with a minimum of 11.
The general prosecutor is at the head of the public prosecutor’s office of the Court of Cassation. The office also consists of a first attorney general and thirteen attorneys general.
The Public Prosecutor's Office hears all cases handled by the Court. Under the direction of the Attorney General, it publishes judgments and conclusions in the Pasicrisie, Arresten and on Juportal. Each year, the Attorney General draws up a report on the state of legislation for the Parliamentary Committee responsible for legislative follow-up, set up by the law of April 25, 2007. This report includes a list of laws which have posed difficulties of application or interpretation for the courts and tribunals over the past judicial year.
Since 1998, the Court is assisted by highly qualified legal advisers, law clerks near the Court of cassation.
Under article 135bis, paragraph 3, of the Judicial Code, law clerks prepare the work of judges. In practice, in some of the cases submitted to the Court (particularly in civil and tax matters), law clerks draw up legal studies, in which they analyze in detail, in law and on the basis of solid documentation, the questions raised by the appeals.
Delegated judges conduct research and study activities for the judges and members of the public prosecutor’s office. They guarantee the documentation and the scientific preparation of a case based on notes and studies.Delegated judges to the CourT of cassation on December 31, 2022 (PDF)
The administrative follow-up of the cases falls under the competence of the registry department of the court, which is managed by the chief registrar.
The public prosecutor's office is headed by a chief secretary, assisted by a department head secretary.
This secretariat provides both the particular secretariat of the public prosecutor, head of the public prosecutor's office, and all of the tasks assigned to it by the Judicial Code, consisting mainly of assisting public prosecutors in the management of the files entrusted to them.
The support service aims to be a high-quality expertise center that offers full support to the Court of Cassation.Support service to the Court of Cassation as of October 31, 2023 (PDF)