Industry focus: Transport in Belgium

ASTREA

'A modern law firm in a traditional shipping market', according to one client, ASTREA's team 'combines an in-depth knowledge of maritime transport law with a very accessible attitude'. The team is acting for the Belgian federal government in a high-profile collision case involving the MV Flinterstar, with claims totaling over €30m. The group also handles dry shipping matters and, in a recent highlight, Louis Verstraeten led advice to Braskem Europe on a logistics, warehousing and distribution contract. The 'knowledgeable' Marc Van Looveren heads the practice and attracts praise for his ability to 'get good results in a market notorious for its prolonged litigation'. 'Very skilled' senior associate Ruud De Houwer is another key name to note.

Fransen Luyten

Fransen Luyten is highly regarded for maritime litigation and has a strong reputation for handling cargo and personal injury claims. The group's expertise also extend to financing and contract matters. Key names to note include Wim Fransen, who is frequently instructed by major ship owners and P&I Clubs, Vincent Fransen and Tom Luyten, who are particularly known for commercial matters.

Roosendaal Keyzer

The Antwerp-based maritime and transport specialists at Roosendaal Keyzer handle a range of contentious and non-contentious matters. The group advised on a broad range of issues concerning insurance, customs, distribution, contracts, logistics and warehousing issues. Frank Roosendaal and Luc Keyzer head the team, which includes key practitioners Frank Stevens and Jorne Adriaensens.

Allen & Overy LLP

The infrastructure and transport practice at Allen & Overy LLP leverages its multidisciplinary team to provide an integrated approach to significant projects. The group has experience across the aviation, shipping, rail and road sectors. In a recent highlight, a team led by Helga Van Peer advised Jan De Nul, Besix and Fabricom on a design, build and maintain project for the Leopold II tunnel in Brussels. In an example of the department's strength in contentious matters, Werner Eyskens represented several carriers, including Saudi Airlines and TUI Airlines, in noise limitation infringement proceedings. Antwerp-based Filip Tanghe is another key name to note, particularly for financing matters.

Ambos NBGO Advocaten

The transport department at Ambos NBGO Advocaten combines traditional shipping expertise with experience handling a broader spectrum of shipping, port-related issues and offshore activities. Ghent-based Peter Van de Vijver leads representation of Estelle Shipping in a claim relating to a piracy incident, valued at $1m. The group is also advising I-Motion Shipping on contractual and regulatory issues relating to a planned new ferry service between the Port of Ghent and two UK ports. Ingrid Van Clemen, who is based in Antwerp, jointly heads the practice alongside Van de Vijver and is a key name to note for maritime litigation.

Leeward

Bruges-based boutique transport and logistics-focused firm Leeward is highlighted for its 'extremely detailed knowledge' of the sector and 'outstanding professional attitude, while always remaining very friendly'. The six-partner practice handles a range of matters ranging from complex claims and contractual negotiations, and counts APM Terminals, 2XL and International Car Operators among its clients. Managing partner Lino Verbeke heads the team alongside Jeroen Villé and Armin Wintein.

Bettens De Cocker Van Hemelen Advocaten

Bettens De Cocker Van Hemelen Advocaten is acknowledged for its transport sector focus with experience spanning maritime and admiralty, international trade, road haulage, rail and air carriage-related matters. Yves De Cocker, Wim Van Hemelen and Paul Bettens are recommended particularly for cargo claims, insurance law and port-related commercial matters respectively.

DLA Piper

DLA Piper's infrastructure, construction and transport sector group benefits from the firm's ability to leverage its full-service Belgian offering, as well as its global network, in a range of litigation and regulatory, employment, finance, restructuring and tax mandates. Litigation and regulatory expert Bob Martens leads the multidisciplinary practice, which counts Flying Group, Aviapartner and Transuniverse Group among its clients.

Kegels & Co Advocaten

Antwerp-based maritime and transport law firm Kegels & Co Advocaten handles shipping collision and cargo claims, as well as advising on a range of commercial, customs and insurance law matters. André Kegels is well regarded in the sector.

Liedekerke Wolters Waelbroeck Kirkpatrick

The transport team at Liedekerke Wolters Waelbroeck Kirkpatrick 'is experienced and fields a range of experts that provide support across a broad spectrum of transport issues'. Clients include Eurostar, Sonaca and DHL International. The department is assisting SNCB with regulatory issues relating to passenger and consumer rights, and has referred a preliminary question to the Court of Justice of the European Union. Counsel Jean Pierre Kesteloot, who is 'a pleasure to work with and understands clients' needs', heads the practice and has broad transport and insurance expertise.

Lydian

Yves Lenders heads the ports and logistics team at Lydian which has experience assisting clients with development and outsourcing projects as well as in related litigation. The group also has experience handling claims following rail accidents.

Stibbe

The cross-departmental infrastructure and transport team at Stibbe assists with a range of public law, commercial, transactional, real estate and construction matters. The department is assisting De Werkvennootschap with the redevelopment of the traffic system on the ring road around Brussels. In another work highlight, a team led by real estate and construction partner Rony Vermeersch and public law expert Bruno Lombaert is advising Brussels Capital Region on the renovation project of the Leopold II Tunnel. Brussels Airport Company, STIB/MIVB, Antwerp Port Authority and Daimler are also clients.

Kennedys

The group at Kennedys is comprised of 'excellent advisers' who are, according to one client, 'experts in transport and logistics'; the group is a key name for aviation clients. Dimitri De Bournonville heads the practice, which includes recently promoted partner Charlotte Thijssen, both are praised for being 'pragmatic in their approach and for providing spot-on legal advice'. The group assisted Air Belgium with the set-up of a long haul airline activity with a base in Belgium.

Norton Rose Fulbright

Norton Rose Fulbright regularly advises transport sector clients on Belgian and EU competition and antitrust issues. The group has assisted with merger control filings for a range of transactions and also represents companies under investigation by competition authorities. Christian Filippitsch is noted.