Belgium > EU regulatory
EU regulation remains a significant driver of work for law firms in Belgium, and there is an increased demand from clients for sector-specific expertise. New regulations affecting the energy and IT markets have increased the flow of instructions for the leading regulatory practices.
Privacy and data protection
Privacy and data protection
Allen & Overy LLP’s ‘knowledgeable’ and ‘precise’ practice provides ‘a professional service’, and its lawyers keep ‘up-to-date with legislation’. It handles large-scale, cross-border matters for clients in the technology and financial services sectors. Peter Van Dyck has ‘strong knowledge of the legal issues’ and ‘a client and solution-oriented attitude’. Counsel Tom De Cordier heads the practice.
Bird & Bird’s team provides ‘quick responses’, has ‘strong knowledge in the area’ and is noted for its ‘high levels of service’ and ‘excellent co-operation’. Catherine Erkelens heads the practice, which recently represented Belgacom in litigation concerning peer-to-peer data exchange. Ludo Deklerck acts for a number of US clients.
Covington & Burling LLP’s ‘very knowledgeable’ team provides ‘sound guidance’ with ‘a strong emphasis on practical solutions’. It acts for the European subsidiaries of US corporations on EU data privacy compliance. Highly recommended team head Henriette Tielemans ‘keeps abreast of trends and news in the space’, and adopts ‘a pragmatic approach’. Monika Kuschewsky joined from Van Bael & Bellis in January 2013.
Hunton & Williams LLP has one of the best-known practices in the market and does ‘an excellent job of considering business objectives and realities in rendering advice’. Although Christopher Kuner joined Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati in 2012, the team continues to advise blue-chip clients on data transfer and security matters. Practice head Wim Nauwelaerts has ‘a quick understanding of complex business models’.
Lorenz’s business-minded team provides ‘great service’ and can call on relationships with law firms in other jurisdictions when running international compliance projects. It acts for blue-chip corporates across the insurance, transport and pharmaceuticals industries. Practice head Jan Dhont is ‘knowledgeable’, ‘responsive’, has ‘great listening skills’ and ‘a practical approach’.
Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP’s leading telecoms group is supplemented by its expertise in state aid. It advises European telecoms providers on regulatory issues driven by competition law, and also represents clients in litigation before the EU General Court. Maurits Dolmans is ‘a real player’ in the market.
TMT specialist Laurent Garzaniti leads on telecoms matters at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer. He recently advised Abertis Telecom on Spain’s notification of the public funding behind a broadband network in the Catalan region, and also advised Brazilian telephone company Oi! on French and Swedish regulations concerning broadband network access.
Gibson Dunn has industry knowledge that is ‘second to none’, and often acts for foreign telecoms regulators on pricing control and broadcasting policy. The ‘extraordinarily competent’ Peter Alexiadis is ‘one of the best advocates’ in the market, and adopts ‘a pragmatic approach to evaluating the feasibility of the proposed solutions’.
Hogan Lovells International LLP’s quick and responsive team is lauded for its ‘impressive levels of service’. Christopher Thomas adopts ‘a very commercial approach’ to clients’ problems, and is ‘good at explaining difficult or complex issues in simple language that everyone can understand’. He regularly advises clients on FRAND declarations and ETSI standard-setting. Gerry Oberst left the firm for an in-house role in late 2012.
Praised for its ‘excellent response times’ and ‘very high quality’ service, Jones Day has a leading practice advising on regulations pertaining to mobile networks, interconnection issues and satellites. Bernard Amory is ‘a hard worker’, and has ‘very good contacts with the relevant authorities at EU and national level’. Practice head Alexandre Verheyden is ‘creative’, consistently available and has ‘very good legal knowledge’.
Dirk Van Liedekerke heads Olswang’s six-lawyer team, which advises a large number of public sector clients on the regulation of broadband mobile networks. It has experienced an uptick in cases concerning net neutrality, and recently represented Belgacom in a dispute involving the pricing and access obligations of cable TV operators.
Catherine Erkelens heads Bird & Bird’s team, which specialises in providing regulatory advice to clients in the aviation and defence sectors. It recently advised on the standardisation of new air traffic management products under the Single European Sky initiative.
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer’s transport and infrastructure team is active in the aviation, rail and shipping sectors. It assists clients with complex regulatory issues pertaining to large-scale infrastructure projects. Alan Ryan is the key contact.
Gide Loyrette Nouel A.A.R.P.I.’s Belgian team advises a broad range of French transport clients on EU regulations in conjunction with the highly reputed Paris office. Policy specialist Benoît Le Bret heads the practice, which saw Laurent Godfroid promoted to the partnership in January 2013.
Hogan Lovells International LLP’s ‘client-oriented’ team has a buoyant maritime and rail practice, which provides both regulatory and contentious advice. It acted for ALSTOM Transport in challenging a procurement decision by Eurostar concerning a high-speed fleet of trains. Other clients include DFDS, The Hellenic State, and Arab Air Carriers Organization. Jacques Derenne is ‘extremely experienced’, and Matthew Levitt’s knowledge of the shipping industry is ‘simply outstanding’.
Norton Rose LLP’s busy aviation and shipping practice is fuelled by the competition group. Of counsel Maria de Lasala Lobera assisted new client Stena Line Scandinavia with regulatory issues regarding its purchase of five shipping routes from Scandlines. Mark Tricker is ‘flexible’ and provides ‘a very high level of service’.
WilmerHale is well regarded for advice on regulations affecting the aviation and logistics sectors. It frequently advises airlines and aerospace companies on licensing, air traffic control issues and cross-border consolidation. Other clients include aircraft and parts manufacturers and public sector clients.
Allen & Overy LLP’s Gauthier van Thuyne advises Procter & Gamble on all its REACH issues, including data-sharing negotiations, contract drafting and compliance. The team advises J.P. Morgan on the importation of metals and REACH registration. Rio Tinto and Marubeni are also clients.
Covington & Burling LLP is ‘among the very best’ for advice on REACH and CLP regulations concerning GMOs, electronic products and biocides. Of counsel Cándido García Molyneux heads this ‘very knowledgeable’ practice, which ‘understands business and doesn’t hesitate to challenge the ideas of its clients’.
Field Fisher Waterhouse’s ‘dedicated’ and ‘consistently very good’ group has ‘deep expertise’ and ‘long experience’ in REACH regulation, cosmetics, pesticides and biocides. Its ‘extraordinary network’ of contacts is ‘extremely helpful’. The ‘very aware’ Claudio Mereu has a good record in consortium and specific uses cases.
Hunton & Williams LLP assists several consortia with balancing IP protection and adherence to rules surrounding REACH disclosure. It also acts for several chemicals companies on wider European contractual and regulatory compliance issues.
Mayer Brown represents industry groups and consortia across the agricultural, cosmetics and material technology sectors. Jean-Philippe Montfort advises on REACH exemptions, product registration and reclassifications.
Ursula Schliessner is McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP’s lead adviser on consortium management, registration and authorisation. Clients include Chromium Trioxide REACH Authorization Consortium and Iron Oxides REACH Consortium.
Sidley Austin LLP’s Kristina Nordlander advises global manufacturers, industry bodies and metal suppliers on CLP regulation and REACH compliance, authorisation and litigation. Clients include The American Chemistry Council and Rio Tinto.
Steptoe & Johnson LLP gives ‘practical advice’ and advocacy support on regulatory compliance and market access. Darren Abrahams shows ‘awareness of many legal issues coming from REACH and CLP’, while Anna Gergely has ‘extensive knowledge’ of food contact regulations. Clients include EuropaBio and Lonza.
Van Bael & Bellis acts for many Asian clients including Honda Motor Europe and Japanese Business Council Europe, which it advises on dangerous substances, notifications, and the issuance of safety data sheets. Reshad Forbes represented European Chemicals Agency in REACH litigation before the EU General Court.
Jacquelyn MacLennan heads White & Case LLP Avocats Advocaten’s ‘extremely competent’ team, which provides ‘excellent’ service. It acts for multinational chemicals corporations on REACH compliance programmes, product recalls and participation in Substance Information Exchange Forums (SIEFs).
Allen & Overy LLP’s ‘exceptional’ knowledge of the Belgian energy market is ‘among the best available’ in Brussels. ‘Very pragmatic’ practice head Joost Everaert has vast experience in energy contracts and disputes, and Tom Schoors has ‘an extraordinary combination of client skills’.
Covington & Burling LLP advises major European energy incumbents including EDF and CEZ on regulation, policy and antitrust matters. The practice recently advised OMV Petrom on Romanian energy issues. Practice head Lars Kjølbye is vastly experienced.
Dechert LLP is advising several large Benelux clients on the implementation of the EU’s third package of energy legislation, as well as climate change and energy regulations pertaining to corporate transactions. René Gonne and Wim Vandenberghe act for clients such as Elia, EnerVest and Green Gas International.
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer’s David Broomhall acts for several UK and Russian clients, including AES and Rosneft, on their operations in Europe and related EU regulations. The team also advises investors on regulatory aspects of proposed energy asset acquisitions, following the introduction of the third energy package.
Lode Van Den Hende’s team at Herbert Smith Freehills LLP has ‘a very good understanding of nuclear energy’, and has also played a key regulatory role in numerous pipeline projects for clients including Gazprom. It recently acted for Visagino Atomine Elektrine on a nuclear power plant development in Lithuania, and advised Chevron on emission and gas trading strategies.
Javier Ruiz Calzado at Latham & Watkins LLP does ‘good work’ for Spanish clients.
McDermott Will & Emery Belgium LLP advises clients on regulations relating to unbundling, network access for third parties, and renewably energy targets. The firm’s network of international offices is a useful resource for cross-border mandates.
Norton Rose LLP provides regulatory advice with a policy component, and is highly active in gas market regulatory issues. Christian Filippitsch and of counsel Maria de Lasala Lobera advised several clients on gas regulation in addition to unbundling under the third energy package. Gazprom Export and EC Directorate-General for Energy are new clients.
Stibbe acts for energy producers, suppliers and transmission system operators on distribution issues, renewable energy projects and litigation before the Belgian courts. Wouter Geldhof advised Elia on offshore grid development and acted for Fedesco on energy services contracts.
Environment (including WEEE and RoHS)
Environment (including WEEE and RoHS).
DLA Piper’s sizeable team advises a broad spread of Belgian clients on environmental permits, waste regulation and litigation arising from land contamination. Bob Martens advises SITA on all of its environmental matters, including the implementation of the Waste Framework Directive, while Dominique Devos leads in contentious matters. The EC and Metso are also clients.
Field Fisher Waterhouse’s ‘very good’ team is ‘a standout’ for environmental advice: response times and knowledge are good and its ‘extraordinary network’ is a major asset to clients. Koen Van Maldegem advises on the use of biocides and other chemicals, and the team recently acted for a Spanish client to obtain a derogation to use a pesticide.
Hogan Lovells International LLP acts for a number of large technology firms on RoHS, packaging waste legislation and the shipment of hazardous waste. Jacqueline Mailly recently acted for an electronics manufacturer on EU eco-design rules and WEEE rules, and assisted a US conglomerate with its appeal against a European Chemicals Agency decision concerning chemicals registration.
Hunton & Williams LLP acts for clients across the defence, packaging and electronics industries. Practice head Lucas Bergkamp acted for Electronic Industries Alliance on environmental regulations pertaining to electronic products across EU member states, and also advised Natural Resource Damage Group on its involvement in a public consultation process. The Conference Board and MeadWestvaco are also clients.
Sidley Austin LLP has vast experience in handling risk management issues pertaining to climate change, eco-design and the production of nanomaterials. The team acts for various clients in the nickel industry, including Umicore and The Nickel Institute. Kristina Nordlander recently represented Rio Tinto Minerals before the European courts in a case concerning classification under the EU Dangerous Substances Directive and the CLP Regulation.
Steptoe & Johnson LLP provides ‘practical advice and solutions’ that go beyond the black letter law. Areas of specialism include waste regulation, environmental remediation and the new EU rules concerning environmental labelling of tyres. Darren Abrahams and the ‘knowledgeable’ Anna Gergely have practices spanning advisory and contentious work, and recently represented a chemicals company in litigation against environmental NGOs.
Stibbe represents architects, developers, environmental groups and public bodies, and is active across the entire Benelux region. Practice head Jan Bouckaert advised the Flemish Region in proceedings initiated by the EC at the European Court of Justice concerning the treatment of urban wastewater.
Van Bael & Bellis advises many large European clients, including Canon Europe, on the implementation of WEEE and RoHS directives as well as eco-design and battery waste regulations. The group receives a steady flow of instructions from Asian industry groups, including Japanese Business Council Europe and Japan Machinery Center for Trade and Investment.
White & Case LLP Avocats Advocaten’s ‘entire Brussels team is extremely competent’, and ‘service is excellent’. Practice head Jacquelyn MacLennan advises various manufacturers on renewable energy and climate change legislation, and David Strelzyk-Herzog shows ‘an in-depth understanding of environmental regulations as they apply to the consumer electronics industry’.
Allen & Overy LLP represents the Belgian arms of international banks and asset managers including J.P. Morgan International Bank and Citibank. Sylvia Kierszenbaum advises clients on matters ranging from covered bond legislation to investment funds passporting, and recently acted for several Belgian banks on complex retail structured products. The team also handles consumer matters including regulation of payment services, remuneration and consumer credit regulation.
Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP advises large European and domestic banks on the regulatory aspects of mergers, restructuring and litigation. It advised key client BNP Paribas on an intra-group restructuring following its acquisition of Fortis’ insurance and commercial finance divisions. Nicholas Levy advised Ernst & Young on the EC’s investigation into the audit sector.
Clifford Chance advises many financial institutions on Basel III, short selling, and the Libor and IBOR investigations. The team specialises in bank secrecy advice, and has also recently advised several clients on the downscaling and transfer of their Belgian operations to Asia.
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer advises clients on the regulatory framework surrounding insurance insolvency, in addition to securities market regulation and trade in the financial services sector. Andrew Renshaw advised Visa Europe on the regulation of card, internet and mobile phone payment technology.
Gide Loyrette Nouel A.A.R.P.I.’s ‘excellent regulatory practice’ acts for Big Four accountancy firms, hedge funds and private equity clients on the implementation and reform of financial directives. Benoît Le Bret recently advised NYSE Euronext on regulatory reforms concerning MiFID, MAD and EMIR, and also advised EVCA and EPER on the AIFM Directive.
Steptoe & Johnson LLP’s superb banking and insurance advisory practice acts for various Swiss banks on dealings with EU institutions. Jean Russotto is ‘an excellent manager of difficult situations’, and has ‘unique experience’ in bank-related proceedings before the EC. Guy Soussan and Philip Woolfson advise insurers, reinsurers and risk managers on cross-border products, the Insurance Mediation Directive and equivalence procedures under Solvency II.
Stibbe has a transactional focus, and advised National Bank of Belgium and the Financial Services and Markets Authority (FSMA) on the rescue of Belgian retail banks. Jan Peeters advised clients on passporting into Belgium and FSMA compliance. Ivan Peeters and Wouter Ghijsels were recently appointed to European Investment Bank’s project finance panel.
Beiten Burkhardt acts for a variety of importers, exporters and public sector clients on the full spectrum of food hygiene, food safety, traceability and labelling issues.
Peter Bogaert heads Covington & Burling LLP’s practice, which recently represented the Health Food Manufacturers’ Association in a health claims matter before the General Court. Genevieve Michaux is also recommended.
Hogan Lovells International LLP’s responsive team ‘understands the needs of the food industry’, and provides ‘clear, practical advice’ on food recalls, health claims, GMOs and crisis management. This ‘strong young team’ includes Jacqueline Mailly, who provides ‘outstanding service’ and is ‘willing to go the extra mile for clients’. Elisabethann Wright is also recommended.
At Mayer Brown, Jean-Philippe Montfort and of counsel Sébastien Louvion advise clients on international food recalls, product defence, and food contact compliance. Clients include 3M Belgium, Tetra Pak and Total Petrochemicals.
McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP’s team is ‘fast’, ‘precise’ and ‘very professional’, and represents multinational conglomerates, baby food producers and dietary supplements companies on food contact, packaging and allergen labelling regulations. Brussels managing partner Ursula Schliessner is ‘an outstanding performer’ with ‘a scientific yet hands-on, business-minded approach’.
Maurits Lugard heads Sidley Austin LLP’s practice, which advises pharmaceuticals companies, food associations and packaging firms on matters including health claims, food contact material and adverse event reporting in relation to food supplements. Arnoud Willems recently advised Kerry BioScience on trade regulations concerning tartaric acid.
Steptoe & Johnson LLP’s food contact specialist Anna Gergely has a busy advisory and contentious practice acting for food and chemicals manufacturers. She successfully represented Microban at the General Court in a case concerning food contact plastics. Darren Abrahams advised a dietary supplements company on market access.
Counsel Katia Merten-Lentz heads Van Bael & Bellis’ group, which advises clients on food regulations at EU, French and Belgian level. It frequently advises large food producers on health claims, labelling, allergens, and traceability.
Outsourcing specialist Filip Van Elsen heads the team at Allen & Overy LLP, which has seen an uptick in instructions concerning cloud computing. It acts for clients including Microsoft and ArcelorMittal on the drafting of outsourcing agreements. The practice also acted for the Belgian Ministry of Justice in litigation against Unisys arising from a software project. IP specialist Geert Glas is also recommended.
Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP acts for an impressive stable of technology clients on antitrust matters, which helps to attract numerous regulatory mandates. Robbert Snelders recently advised Lexmark on an EC decision concerning a complaint brought by European Federation of Ink and Ink Cartridge Manufacturers, and the team also acted for Texas Instruments on distribution matters. Google is another notable client.
Clifford Chance advises trade associations and large technology companies on the regulatory questions surrounding EC antitrust investigations. Samsung is one such client.
Lars Kjølbye and Damien Geradin jointly head Covington & Burling LLP’s e-commerce practice. Geradin focuses on high technology sectors and Wim van Velzen is an experienced adviser on EU policy affecting the IT sector. Lisa Peets, who splits her time between London and Brussels, and the team advised Microsoft on child safety and, separately, on the release of the Windows 8 phone. Other clients include Samsung Electronics, United Technologies and National Instruments.
Stibbe’s ‘strong’ team is praised for its ‘prompt reactions’ and ‘high business acumen’. ‘Excellent negotiator’ Erik Valgaeren heads this dedicated group, which advises Belgacom on matters ranging from wholesale agreements to litigation concerning software platforms. The team also advised Argenta on outsourcing and acted for Mozilla Corporation on a compliance programme. Senior associate Nicolas Roland has ‘excellent pleading skills in court’.
Pharmaceuticals and biotechnology
Pharmaceuticals and biotechnology
Bird & Bird is a ‘very good’ source of advice for public procurement, reimbursement and litigation issues in the pharmaceuticals industry. The team advises Pharma.be on issues ranging from data protection to the use of human tissue. Practice head Marc Martens is ‘always responsive’ and gives ‘clear, pragmatic advice’.
The ‘excellent’ Covington & Burling LLP provides ‘good value for money as the work is done efficiently’. ‘Safe pair of hands’ Peter Bogaert is ‘extremely knowledgeable’, and has recently advised several clients on the implementation of the new EU Directive on Falsified Medicines and the Cross-border Healthcare Directive. Of counsel Cándido García Molyneux is also recommended. Genevieve Michaux joined Hunton & Williams in April 2013.
Hogan Lovells International LLP’s group acts for a range of clients in the medical and pharmaceuticals sectors on matters including product classification, pharmaco-vigilance and clinical trials. The team recently conducted a multi-territory investigation into the off-label promotion of medicinal products for a client. Practice head Elisabethann Wright has excellent knowledge of the UK market.
Sidley Austin LLP received a major boost when it hired senior counsel Vincenzo Salvatore from the European Medicines Agency in 2012, where he had been head of legal service. The team advises clients on the new regulation of medical devices and clinical trials, and acts for pharmaceuticals companies on product lifecycle management. Practice head Maurits Lugard is the other key figure.
Squire Sanders LLP’s life sciences practice is highly regarded for its expertise in the regulation of clinical trials, where it handles contracts, data protection and informed consent issues. Practice head Cristiana Spontoni has ‘excellent knowledge in the pharmaceuticals area’, and is ‘always straight to the point’.
At Van Bael & Bellis, life sciences expert Peter L’Ecluse advises clients on product advertising, reimbursement, pricing and litigation at domestic and EU level.
White & Case LLP Avocats Advocaten’s ‘efficient’ team gives ‘very good’ advice to research companies and industry associations. Recently, the team has played a key role in several cases linked to the EC’s sector inquiry and successfully represented Pfizer and Abbott Laboratories in court. Practice head James Killick is ‘quick’ and ‘commercial’, and Axel Schulz and the ‘outstanding’ Ian Forrester QC are also recommended.