Dispute resolution in Belgium
Allen & Overy LLP
Allen & Overy LLP has 'an excellent team of highly skilled professionals'. The practice spans a broad range of domestic and multi-jurisdictional disputes; corporate litigation, antitrust, contentious insolvency and white-collar crime cases are noted areas of strength. Arbitration is another core area of instruction. The key names are Tom Schoors; the 'very methodical' Koen Van Den Broeck; arbitration expert Werner Eyskens; Joost Everaert, who has established expertise in handling white-collar crime matters; and Thales Mertens, who handles contentious corporate, insolvency and real estate cases.
‘Koen Van den Broeck is a very experienced and knowledgeable litigator‘.
‘Thales Mertens: drive, work force, motivation, intellectual capacity, accessibility, quick reaction and response‘.
Françoise Lefèvre and Stefaan Loosveld are the key names at Linklaters, which has solid expertise in advising banking, corporate and financial institution clients on regulatory investigations and white-collar crime cases.
Other key lawyers:
Stan Brijs and Sophie Jacmain jointly head up the department at NautaDutilh, which counts insolvency litigation as a core area of instruction. The team is equally adept at advising clients on financial services, real estate, corporate and commercial disputes, and arbitration matters. In an example of the latter, Brijs and Jacmain are acting for two Moldovan investors in an ongoing dispute with the Republic of Kazakhstan over recovering an arbitral award worth over $500m.
Schneider Electric Belgium
ABN Amro Bank
ING Asset Finance
- Acting for Euroclear Bank in a dispute relating to the freezing of funds belonging to Libyan entities.
In the words of one client, Stibbe's practice houses 'one of the most respected litigation teams in Belgium'. The 'strong' group has excellent expertise in advising on financial disputes, and is also noted for its capabilities in insolvency, corporate and commercial, construction and cybercrime cases. Hans Van Bavel heads up the department, in which Oliver Stevens, Nicolas Résimont and Paul Van der Putten are key contacts.
‘Nicolas Résimont in particular is exceptional. He is very smart, quick to understand and has a real added-value to provide pragmatic solutions‘.
‘Oliver Stevens is up and coming and an excellent litigator with convincing pleading skills. He has not only excellent theoretical knowledge but excellent strategic thinking‘.
Brussels Airport Company
- Representing the National Bank of Belgium in multiple litigations pertaining to the bankruptcy of Optima Bank.
- Representing KBC Bank in a dispute regarding the recovery of credit facilities granted to New York diamond manufacturer and distributor Lazare Kaplan International.
Annelies Verlinden's group at DLA Piper includes the 'brilliant' Bob Martens, who is highly regarded for his expertise in public sector disputes. The team's caseload includes IP, banking, real estate and white-collar crime litigation.
Other key lawyers:
National Bank of Belgium
Flemish Public Broadcasting Company
At Eubelius, the team is adept at handling disputes from the real estate, food, energy, financial services, retail and constructions sectors, and is also noted for its strength in tax litigation. Patrick Hofströssler, Ignace Claeys and Svjatoslav Gnedasj share leadership of the practice.
‘Ignace Claeys is excellent in his insight and approach based on his scientific know how‘.
Financial disputes have been especially prominent in Janson's recent caseload; other mandates pertain to corporate litigation, IP disputes, white-collar crime cases and arbitration matters. Practice head and 'top lawyer' Dominique Blommaert 'combines thorough knowledge and insight with a strong personality'; Cédric Alter and 'strong litigator' Céline Masschelein are key contacts.
‘Dominique Blommaert is one of the most agile litigators on the market, who is well respected by the courts and very pragmatic‘.
Santander Consumer Finance
- Defending Belfius Bank against class action proceedings brought against the client by former shareholders of the ARCO Group relating to alleged mis-selling of shares.
Recent work for Jones Day's team includes handling arbitration matters for clients predominantly drawn from the construction sector, as well as advising on competition law disputes, cross-border mandates and financial litigation, to name a few areas. Department head Sébastien Champagne provides 'practical and sensible solutions'. Michèle Grégoire is very well known for representing clients before the Belgian Supreme Court; arbitration expert Vanessa Foncke is a name to note.
The Belgian State
- Acting for media company Havas in a dispute with Dentsu regarding the annulment of an arbitral award worth €4m; the case is currently before the Belgian Supreme Court.
Liedekerke Wolters Waelbroeck Kirkpatrick's practice houses a 'very strong' team of 'very thorough lawyers'. The group 'really knows the fine details and advantages of international arbitration procedures', and also counts commercial, insolvency and financial disputes as core areas of expertise. The 'very seasoned practitioner' Arnaud Nuyts, who is the key name for international arbitration and multi-jurisdictional litigation, demonstrates 'extremely sound judgement'; Olivier Vanden Berghe is the main name for commercial contracts disputes. Aimery De Schoutheete and associate Bruno Hardy are also key practitioners.
‘Arnaud Nuyts is a formidable advocate and excellent strategist. He enjoys enormous respect from very senior judges and arbitrators and is trusted and listened to when he discusses difficult points of law‘.
‘Bruno Hardy is extremely competent, thorough, well organized and a quick-thinker‘.
‘Bruno Hardy is a very promising up and coming lawyer, able to master highly complex disputes‘.
Republic of Kazakhstan
- Representing the Republic of Kazakhstan in an ongoing dispute with two Moldovan investors relating to the enforcement of an arbitral award worth over $500m
- Representing Brussels Airlines, Brussels Airport and TUI in claims for damages against skeyes, the Belgian air traffic service provider, following repeated closures of the Belgian air space.
Hakim Boularbah's group at Loyens & Loeff reports an uptick in instructions involving class actions, alongside handling high-profile arbitration matters. In the latter space, the team is acting for the National Bank of Kazakhstan in a challenge to a third party garnishment order; this forms part of an ongoing dispute with two Moldovan investors regarding an arbitral award. Yves Van Couter retired in July 2019. In January 2020 Olivier van der Haegen was promoted to partner.
Other key lawyers:
The National Bank of Kazakhstan
- Assisting Miminco and two individuals with the enforcement of an arbitral award worth $15m against the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Lydian has 'solid expertise in dispute resolution', with established expertise in insurance litigation. Commercial and corporate disputes, product liability cases, construction litigation and arbitration are included in the team's recent caseload. 'Team player' Hugo Keulers jointly heads the practice with Annick Mottet Haugaard. Counsel Jo Willems 'combines technical expertise with commercial skills and the ability to translate complex issues into simple solutions'.
Other key lawyers:
‘They are a very responsive team, thorough and efficient‘.
‘Lydian provides an excellent service‘.
‘Hugo Keulers stands out. He obviously has very good knowledge about the insurance market and incredible skills within this field‘.
‘Jo Willems is a highly skilled lawyer with expertise in dispute resolution and commercial contracts‘.
Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty
- Representing US-based company CooperSurgical in a dispute relating to a licensing agreement.
Viewed by some clients as 'a litigation powerhouse', Quinz houses a 'reliable' and 'very accessible' team, which combines 'a deep knowledge of the law with strong strategic insight and excellent communication skills'. Benoît Allemeersch is 'an expert in the field of banking and finance liability claims', 'a smart negotiator' who demonstrates 'sound legal knowledge'; he shares leadership of the practice with Vincent Van Obberghen, who 'excels in presenting pragmatic solutions'.
‘Very pragmatic team with a very hands on approach‘.
‘Their work is highly solution-orientated and precise‘.
‘Benoît Allemeersch’s professional, hands-on approach to the case and his organisation skills are unique. He kept giving us supreme quality advice throughout highly sophisticated cases. You definitely had better have him on your side instead of going up against him‘.
‘Benoît Allemeersch is a star who commands respect from his peers‘.
‘Vincent Van Obberghen distinguishes himself by his remarkably efficient and pragmatic approach which is motivated by his exceptional understanding of the business case presented to him by the client‘.
BNP Paribas Fortis
European External Action Service
- Representing BNP Paribas Fortis in proceedings brought by former shareholders following the collapse of Fortis Bank.
- Acting for mining company Nyrstar in a dispute with its minority shareholders following its restructuring.
Van Bael & Bellis has 'excellent knowledge of the law', and has solid expertise in life sciences, competition and IP disputes. The 'fantastic' Catherine Longeval heads up the team; key contacts include Martin Favart, who is noted for his expertise in competition law, and Peter L’Ecluse, who is well known for handling instructions from the life sciences sector.
- Successfully defended two national meteorological services and an international meteorological organisation against an allegation of abuse of dominance concerning the supply of meteorological data.
The 'strong and capable' team at ALTIUS garners praise for its expertise in 'dealing with complex litigation with an international dimension'; the practice also reports an uptick in arbitration mandates. The 'extremely responsive' Alexander Hansebout jointly heads the department with Christophe Ronse, who 'is able to present complex subjects in an easily comprehensible manner'.
‘Christophe Ronse is an outstanding advocate. He presents in a clear, friendly and highly persuasive manner before the courts‘.
Merck Sharp & Dohme
- Represented Turkish agent Agro Foreign Trade & Agency in a dispute with its Belgian principal company Petersime, involving the application of Turkish mandatory law by Belgian courts on commercial agents.
- Successfully acted for Balkan Energy in the enforcement of a $12m arbitral award against Ghana.
Joost Verlinden, Karel Schulpen and Bart Volders jointly lead Arcas Law's team, which reports an uptick in financial litigation. The group has also been handling a range of liability claims from multinational and domestic clients.
‘Joost Verlinden is a top litigator with a hands on, pragmatic approach, and he is always available for his clients‘.
Baker McKenzie CVBA/SCRL has traditional strength in IT and IP litigation, and the firm reports an increase in instructions involving real estate disputes. Other key areas of strength include financial services and construction litigation. Koen De Winter, Gregory Lebrun and Daniel Fesler are the key names.
‘Gregory Lebrun distinguishes himself by his insightful approach and well-balanced strategy and tactics; he thinks along with the customer‘.
AXA Corporate Solutions
Apple Retail Belgium
- Representing Orange in a multi-party dispute with former contractor Fibreworx in relation to the ownership of the IRISnet network, a 30km optical fibre network providing internet access to a significant number of public institutions in Brussels.
- Acting for AXA Corporate Solutions in ongoing insurance litigation resulting from a fire at Brussels International Airport.
Restructuring and insolvency-related litigation has been prominent in the workload for the 'extremely knowledgeable' and 'very efficient' team at Clifford Chance. The group has also been kept busy handling arbitration matters. Practice head Dorothée Vermeiren is 'very responsive, smart, client focused and results oriented'.
‘The team is extremely responsive and is very punctual‘.
‘Dorothée Vermeiren combines punctuality and resolution with an exceptional legal knowledge. She has the ability to explain complex legal matters to our management in an understandable way‘.
Bank of America Merrill Lynch
- Representing a bank in litigation pertaining to Bermuda swaptions sold to clients prior to the 2008-09 Belgian financial crisis.
- Acting for a global telecommunications company in a dispute brought by shareholders pertaining to its squeeze-out of a Belgian company it acquired in 2007.
Crowell & Moring houses a 'knowledgeable and highly responsive' team. The group is well known for its established strength in advising pharmaceutical clients on the gamut of patent litigation, with TMT, competition and corporate disputes also featuring in the department's recent workload. IP litigation expert Kristof Roox and Thomas De Meese share leadership of the practice, which includes key names Emmanuel Plasschaert and Jan-Diederik Lindemans.
‘Kristof Roox: one of the best known patent and technology litigation experts in Belgium‘.
‘Jan-Diederik Lindemans: full of energy and enthusiasm, he is exactly the kind of lawyer that you want working on your case‘.
Federation of Flemish Music Festivals
- Representing Sandoz and Mylan in a dispute with Gilead concerning the validity of Gilead’s supplementary protection certificate for the combination of tenofovir disoproxil and emtricitabine, marketed by Gilead as Truvada.
- Acting for software development company Kaspar in a contractual dispute with IT company Diplad, following Diplad’s refusal to pay development and licensing fees to the client due to an alleged breach of contract.
The 'excellent' team at Deloitte is 'highly qualified in tax litigation'. Other areas of strength for the group include commercial, IP and TMT disputes, which the department handles for a broad client roster. Jürgen Egger and Annick Visschers are key contacts in the practice.
‘Annick Visschers is an excellent lawyer, especially highly qualified in tax litigation‘.
- Represented a Dutch national in a dispute with the Belgian tax authorities regarding the application of a tax exemption to immovable property located in the Netherlands.
At Fieldfisher, practice head Jean-François Germain is leading the advice to real estate company Vizzion Europe on proceedings relating to corporate litigation, with a focus on shareholders' disputes. Maxime Berlingin is noted for his expertise in handling corporate disputes, and is also adept at arbitration.
Other key lawyers:
AG Real Estate
- Acting for AGC Glass Europe in a dispute concerning the construction of an industrial glass complex in Brazil.
- Assisting longstanding client Lafarge Holcim with a broad range of contentious matters, including corporate and commercial disputes and product liability matters.
intui has 'an exceptional corporate litigation practice' housing a 'motivated, energetic and very knowledgeable' team, which has established expertise advising on shareholders' disputes. The 'highly intelligent' Robbie Tas is 'a great corporate litigator, he has an eye on the details without losing sight of the overall picture'. Anneleen Steeno is another name to note.
‘intui is a niche firm with an excellent reputation. You better have them at your side instead of having them against you. They combine theoretical knowledge with an excellent practical approach‘.
‘Their expertise in company law (and litigation concerning company law) is excellent‘.
‘Robbie Tas is not only an academic expert in corporate law, but also an experienced hands-on litigator‘.
The 'pragmatic' Stefan Deswert leads the team at Osborne Clarke. Retail sector disputes have been especially prominent in the group's caseload over the past year, alongside instructions from clients from the life sciences, infrastructure and technology sectors. Commercial litigation is another key area of instruction. Marie Canivet and associate Philippe Brabanders are also noted.
- Successfully represented LB Retail, of the Altersmoke Group, in a dispute against French electronic cigarette company Le Petit Vapoteur, regarding the latter’s illegal online sales of electronic cigarettes to Belgian customers.
Senior partner Prof Dr Denis Philippe leads Philippe & Partners' team, which reports an uptick in arbitration matters. On the contentious side, the group represents prominent clients from the insurance, energy, financial and corporate sectors, among others, in a wide range of disputes. Marc Gouden has extensive expertise in energy and insurance litigation; counsel Tom Van Noyen is a name to note.
- Representing a prominent government institution in ongoing litigation against four prominent elevator companies regarding damages claims for infringing competition law by creating a cartel.
- Acting for a Portuguese construction company in an ICC arbitration against the Republic of Libya.
Schoups' 'quick and sharp' team has a 'high level of technical expertise' and provides 'good advice'. The practice is perhaps best known for its established strength in handling prominent construction disputes. Geert De Buyzer is 'always looking for the best solution for the customer' and 'able to think outside the box'. Managing director Marco Schoups, Kris Lemmens and Siegfried Busscher are also key contacts.
‘Marco Schoups: very competent partner who is always available to the customer; high focus on the customer and solution-oriented; strong technical knowledge‘.
At Simont Braun, recent work for the 'efficient' team includes acting for consumer protection company Test-Achats in a prominent class action against Ryanair. IP litigation is another core area of instruction for the group. Paul Alain Foriers and Rafaël Jafferali jointly head the department.
‘Rafaël Jafferali has excellent knowledge and understanding of the most complex legal issues. He approaches them from a practical angle, not purely theoretical‘.
The Belgian State
- Representing PLAYMOBIL Belgium in litigation against building contractor Playmobil Industrie concerning trade mark infringement.
Insolvency disputes and corporate litigation are core strengths of Strelia's practice. In a standout, ongoing matter, the team is representing directors of Optima Bank in claims for damages brought against the client after the bank was declared bankrupt. Jean-Pierre Fierens leads the group; Olivier Clevenbergh ('smart, empathic and very reactive'), Bart De Moor and Sébastien Ryelandt are key names.
‘Strelia is a very modern law firm, able to dedicate the right resource to many diverse problematic issues. They have a strong sense of trying to conciliate the parties but they can show also formidable pleading skills when needed. They give very clear and easy to understand advice while being able on the other side to develop incredibly sharp arguments to defend a case‘.
The State of Libya
- Representing the director of the board of Fortis Bank in ongoing criminal and civil proceedings following the bank’s collapse in 2008.
At White & Case LLP, the team is acting for three prominent Romanian companies and a Swedish private investor in ongoing proceedings relating to the enforcement of a €200m arbitral award against Romania by ICSID. Associates Alexandre Hublet, Nino de Lathauwer and Elien Claeys are names to note.
- Successfully acted for Bank Indonesia in a longrunning dispute with the trustees of its former Dutch subsidiary, Indover, following the subsidiary’s bankruptcy.
At Ambos NBGO Advocaten, the team has established strength in international arbitration, and is well known for handling contentious commercial, IP, corporate, biotech and transport cases. Bart Vandereeckt, Ingrid Van Clemen and arbitration expert Kathleen Paisley are the key names.
‘Kathleen Paisley – super responsive, great commercial judgement and all around great lawyer‘.
- Representing New Yorker in ongoing litigation regarding alleged infringement of a Levi Strauss trade mark.
- Acting for Aurea in a dispute with a Belgian licensee regarding a licensing agreement with the Belgian tax authorities.
- Representing Taiden Industrial in ongoing litigation regarding alleged copyright infringement.
At Bird & Bird, the team is perhaps best known for its strength in IP litigation, however the group is also adept at handling corporate and financial disputes; Paul Hermant is a key figure in this area. The department is led by IP expert Benoit Van Asbroeck.
Other key lawyers:
Leiden University Medical Centre
Kuehne & Nagel
- Successfully represented Schneider Electric before the Belgian Supreme Court in litigation initiated by the Belgian public prosecutor and minority shareholders concerning allegedly undervalued public takeover bids launched by the client on two Belgian listed companies in the early 1990s.
- Acting for transport company Alpega in proceedings regarding claims brought by users of the Teleroute Freight Exchange, an online freight and vehicles exchange service operated by the client; the claims relate to allegedly stolen freights and shipments which were being transported through the Exchange.
Competition litigation forms the backbone of contrast’s practice, which has also been kept busy handling arbitration matters. Frank Wijckmans, Filip Tuytschaever, Bart Bellen and senior counsel Luc Demeyere are the names to note.
‘Luc Demeyere is highly experienced in arbitration proceedings and is well respected by the arbitration tribunal‘.
‘Bart Bellen is sharp in identifying any potential arguments‘.
‘Filip Tuytschaever’s never ending enthusiasm and willingness to defend the company are admirable‘.
Global Champions Tour
Global Champions League
Belgian Ministry of Economy
Samsung Electronics Benelux
- Representing the Belgian Ministry of Economy as intervenor in support of the Belgian Competition Authority (BCA) before the Brussels Court of Appeal in an appeal procedure filed by Proximus against the imposition of a €66.3m fine by the BCA for abuse of dominance.
- Representing Samsung Benelux in an appeal procedure before the Brussels Court of Appeal regarding a claim brought by a trader based on alleged refusal to supply and restrictions of parallel trade.
Laser System Europe
IT Pro NV (Switch)
- Representing software company Appiness in a damages claim against an investor.
DALDEWOLF's 'very thorough' team has established strength in arbitration, and also has strong capabilities in litigation; commercial disputes, often with an international flavour, are prominent in the team's workload. Arbitration expert Marc Dal shares leadership of the practice with Thierry Bontinck; Patrick Van Leynseele, who has extensive expertise in mediation; and managing partner Patrick De Wolf.
‘Marc Dal knows the ins and outs of the courts and has a reliable sense of judgment. Knows when to be pragmatic and when to be aggressive. A real ally for any general counsel‘.
Hanotiau & van den Berg
Hanotiau & van den Berg counts complex international arbitration matters as a core area of expertise, often relating to the enforcement of arbitral awards, and is also adept at litigation. Key names in the practice include Paul Lefebvre, Albert Jan van den Berg and Bernard Hanotiau.
The Russian Federation
Laurius' 'very knowledgeable, proactive and hands-on' team 'combines sound legal knowledge with commercial acumen'. The group advises clients drawn from, among others, the construction, IT, energy and hospitality sectors on a range of corporate disputes. Bert Luyten and Karen Vermaere are the key contacts.
‘A highly flexible and dedicated team of specialists that will not let you down‘.
‘Bert Luyten is a very intelligent and dedicated lawyer. He is very solution oriented‘.
‘Karen Vermaere has an in-depth, yet practical knowledge of the law and a distinguished approach to conflict. You can trust that her advice will be solid and well considered. She never fails to deliver an excellent level of support, expertise and performance‘.
The 'professional' team at Monard Law is well known for handling disputes brought by clients from the luxury goods and automotive sectors. Key contacts in the group are the 'very reactive' Daan De Jaeger; corporate expert Nicole Segers; 'good communicator' Erik Monard; Natalie Ulburghs, who has expertise in commercial, corporate and financial law matters; Kristof Zadora, who is very experienced in IT law; and Jeroen Raskin, who handles instructions involving financial matters.
‘Erik Monard : Founder, highly experienced professional, able to look from outside the box, entrepreneur, adding an extra dimension to a legal dispute or case, easy to work with‘.
‘Kristof Zadora : experienced lawyer, young and angry, dedicated to the case and to his customer, never letting go, easy to communicate and work with‘.
- Representing car importer company D’leteren in a dispute with former distributor Latem Motors following a distribution network reorganisation, as part of which the client terminated its distribution agreement with Latem Motors.
Olislaegers & De Creus
Michael Olislaegers and Dylan Casaer are the key names at Olislaegers & De Creus, which counts corporate litigation as the backbone of its practice. Recent instructions for the team include disputes from the real estate and fashion sectors.
Verhaegen Walravens' team is 'very dedicated and business oriented', and is noted for its solid capabilities in corporate litigation. The group also handles instructions from clients drawn from the technology, construction, media and financial sectors. Practice head Philip Walravens is 'a great litigator'; senior associate Julie Borgerhoff is a key name.
Other key lawyers:
‘Philip Walravens: very experienced, practical approach, easily accessible – he considers legal aspects as well as human factors‘.
‘Julie Borgerhoff: very service-oriented, easily reachable, solid advice‘.
Procter & Gamble
- Acting for Atmosphere Architects in a dispute against SABAM (the Belgian Association of Authors, Composers and Publishers) concerning a rise in the latter’s license tariffs, which was declared an abuse of dominance by the Brussels Commerical Court; the case is currently being heard by the European Commission.
- Representing construction company IBO in a multi-party dispute concerning the construction of a school building.