Any debt mediation institution wishing to operate in the Brussels Capital Region which, due to its organisation, cannot be considered as belonging exclusively to the French Community or the Flemish Community must obtain accreditation from the Common Community Commission (the COCOM).
The services provided by a debt mediation agency are, with the exception of the conclusion of a credit agreement, the provision of preventive and/or curative assistance to over-indebted persons. They are facing financial problems or are unable to pay their debts which are due or have yet to fall due. Debt mediation serves to find a lasting solution to over-indebtedness. It aims to guarantee the debtor a dignified existence while fulfilling his/her obligations towards his/her creditors as far as possible. Finally, debt mediation aims to make the debtor aware of his/her responsibilities by giving him/her the means to manage his/her budget autonomously.
Accreditation can only be granted to institutions if they:
- appoint for debt mediation a qualified social worker with at least 30 hours of specialised training in debt mediation or with at least three years of useful professional experience;
- prove that they employ a doctor or a law graduate with the training or professional experience mentioned in 1, or conclude an agreement with a doctor or a law graduate who fulfils the same conditions, or conclude an agreement with the Bar Association of a Brussels Bar;
- are non-profit making;
- have a legal personality;
- in particular, have the assistance of persons in difficulties as a social objective or as a statutory mission.
The decision of the United College dated 15 October 1998 relating to the accreditation, the training of the staff and the cost of mediation of the debt mediation agencies states the minimum content of the specialised training and establishes the list of required diplomas.
In addition to this:
- there must be no indications of any lack of honour or unselfishness on the part of the agency or any of its organs, authorised personnel or nominees;
- the functions of chairman, director, manager or proxy may not be entrusted to a non-rehabilitated person who has been sentenced to a term of imprisonment of at least one month, even with deferment, for an offence referred to in Royal Decree No. 22 dated 24 October 1934 prohibiting certain convicts and bankrupts from holding certain offices, professions or activities and giving the commercial courts the power to pronounce such a prohibition;
- the agencies must be sufficiently independent of persons or institutions exercising the activity of creditor or credit intermediary.
Action to be taken
Any application for accreditation must be addressed to the Services of the United College (the Administration), accompanied by an administrative file.
Before granting approval, the Administration will schedule a site visit in order to verify compliance with the approval standards.
If this assessment shows that the accreditation standards are met, the Advisory Board will then issue an opinion on the accreditation application.
The competent members of the United College will take a decision after receiving the opinion of the Advisory Board. The accreditation will be granted for a period of six years. It is renewable for a period of six years.