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Belgium > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings

Editorial

Legal market overview

After seeing limited economic growth in recent years, Belgium's GDP is expected to stabilise in 2018 and 2019. The M&A market is showing signs of resilience in the face of political uncertainty. Though the majority of deal activity involves small and medium-sized enterprises, a high percentage of transactions include a cross-border element. The employment market has also seen improvement; unemployment dropped to 7.3% in 2017 and is set to fall further in the following two years. The statistics on the country's public debt are more worrying: government debt stood at 105.7% of GDP in 2016.

As a focal point for the European Union, Belgium has felt strongly the impact of the impending Brexit. In an interesting development in the field of competition, some UK law firms are looking at redeploying partners to Brussels to ensure a continuous stream of EU law work following the UK's departure from the Union.

The EU's Unified Patent Court is expected to commence operations from early 2018. However, the future of the Unified Patent Court, at present based in London, is unknown and dependent on the outcome of the Brexit negotiations.

In Belgium as elsewhere, companies are seeking data protection advice in anticipation of the May 2018 deadline for compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). As new cyberattacks continue to make headlines, cybersecurity is another hot topic globally; many Belgium-based IP and IT lawyers have noted an uptick in queries in this area.

Among the biggest trends specific to the country is the new Belgian Companies Code, which is expected to be adopted by the end of 2017 and applicable from January 2019. The reformed code seeks to modernise and simplify Belgian company law, thereby increasing competitiveness.

Belgium is a popular jurisdiction for non-profit organisations, and certain firms in the country have developed strong practices tailored to the needs of such entities. Lawyers active in the field have been closely following the new company code, which could have particular implications for non-profits. Many have also noted the increased interest among UK-based non-profit organisations in relocating to Brussels in the lead up to Brexit.

Belgium is also a key player in the biotechnology sector, particularly in health-related biotechnology, and enjoys a well-established reputation for discoveries and innovation. Wallonia, Flanders and the Brussels-Capital region are all home to notable universities and spin-off biotechnology companies. M&A in the IT and biotechnology sectors in the country remains healthy.

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Press Releases in Belgium

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