Constitutional Court Ruling on Remuneration Cap for Public Managers Shakes Up Walloon Decree: Potential Impact on Luc Partoune and Stéphane Moreau

2023-10-27 15:32:00

The judgment rendered by the Constitutional Court on October 19 comes following preliminary questions asked by the Labor Court in a case brought by the lawyers of Luc Partoune, ex-CEO of Liege Airport.

Our colleagues from RTL reveal that this ruling partially dismantles the Walloon decree of March 29, 2018 which caps the remuneration of public managers at €245,000 gross per year. Which, according to RTL, could have the consequence not only of allowing Luc Partoune to be paid uncollected amounts but also of leading to a dismissal of the case in favor of Stéphane Moreau, former boss of Nethys. He (and the other former “Nethysian” executives) could recover a real windfall, namely the €8.6 million in exit compensation, seized by the courts.

It seems to me that these conclusions are a bit hasty”, analyzes Walloon MP Stéphane Hazée (Ecolo). The former member of the Publifin parliamentary committee has been following these governance issues for several years.

“Legitimate hope”

Initially, it was Luc Partoune who took the matter to the Liège labor court to challenge the capping measure taken by the Walloon government in 2018. The court deemed his request unfounded in 2020.

He appeals to the Labor Court which will ask two preliminary questions to the Constitutional Court. Partoune, who earned €430,000 gross per year, was deprived of 43% of his income without negotiation.

What the Constitutional Court says, when questioned in particular about a possible violation of property rights, is that a remuneration ceiling is not an expropriation within the meaning of the Constitution. But that there is, on the part of the plaintiff, a legitimate hope to be perceived, “at least in the near future, this remuneration in exchange for work already agreed “.


The period of one and a half months between the publication of the decree and its entry into force is considered too shortretains Stéphane Hazée. The transitional arrangement is considered unreasonable. But the ceiling set by decree is validated by the Court. This is very important and it removes legal uncertainty.

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The application of the salary cap to current contracts is also not called into question by the judgment. Luc Partoune’s defense argued in fact that the contract signed previously was superior to the decree.

In short, that very nuanced things. But it will be a question of having an in-depth legal analysis on the side of the Region“, summarizes Stéphane Hazée. He plans to soon question Minister-President Di Rupo on this subject. It is he who is in fact responsible for this legislation on the governance of Walloon public tools (such as Liege Airport).

And not Christophe Collignon, Minister of Local Authorities, in charge of the Code of Local Democracy which applies to Nethys, a subsidiary of an intermunicipal corporation.

It is not on this matter that the Court is ruling“, repeats the Ecolo MP. Beware of amalgamations, therefore.

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