Industry focus: Transport in Belgium

ASTREA BV CVBA

Spread across the Antwerp and Brussels offices, ASTREA BV CVBA's transport and logistics team is noted for its 'creative, all-angles approach' to matters in the maritime sector. Led by commercial specialist Marc Van Looveren, the practice handles advisory and disputes cases involving cargo damage, collisions, leasing and the seizure of ocean-going vessels. Louis Verstraeten and associate Ruud De Houwer focus on dry and wet shipping matters, respectively, while the 'pragmatic and accurate' Van Looveren focuses on logistics and ship arrests. All named individuals are based in Antwerp.

Practice head(s):

Marc Van Looveren

Other key lawyers:

Louis Verstraeten; Ruud De Houwer

Testimonials

A creative, all-angles approach.

Accurate and speedy responses, a hardworking team.

‘Marc Van Looveren has a very user-friendly approach, and is pragmatic and accurate.’

Key clients

Lukoil Benelux

Belgian Federal Government – Department of Transport and Mobility

Belgian Federal Government – Department of Health and Environment

Topoil

Heros Sluiskil

Saga Welco

U.K. Club

Spliethof, Transfennica

SKULD

Cargill

Skuld P&I

LIEBHERR

Marincon

Jansen Air & Ocea

Work highlights

  • Assisting the Belgian federal government regarding the “Basel Express”, which has been detained in the Port of Antwerp since March 2019 as a result of numerous non-compliances with international and European laws.
  • Assisting the Piraeus branch of HFW following the collision between the “Sakizaya Kalon” and the “Panamax Alexander” in the Suez Canal.
  • Advising Limpens, the owner of a Dutch road transport company, on receiving payment from a major player in the field of PET bottles based in the United Arab Emirates and its Belgian subsidiary.

Fransen Luyten

Fransen Luyten specialises in ship financing and arrests, salvage and collision matters, cargo damage issues, and advice on road transport and air and rail carriage. Practice head and disputes specialist Wim Fransen is frequently instructed on insurance-related maritime mandates, while Tom Luyten has significant experience in marine casualty work and international contract negotiations. Vincent Fransen handles inland shipping law cases, along with the finance operations of leading Belgian and foreign vessel owners.

Practice head(s):

Wim Fransen

Other key lawyers:

Tom Luyten; Vincent Fransen

Kegels & Co Advocaten

Kegels & Co Advocaten's 'flexible and reachable' maritime law, international trade and transport department handles litigation and transactional matters, predominantly relating to various shipping and port issues. Name partner André Kegels is regarded as 'one of the best, if not the best, Belgian lawyers' in this sector; he leads the practice alongside Tony Kegels and Dirk Noels, who is also commended for his 'very commercial and solution-oriented approach' to marine disputes. Clients typically include insurers, charter parties, ship owners, port authorities and logistics operators.

Practice head(s):

Tony Kegels; André Kegels; Dirk Noels

Testimonials

‘The team is well led by André Kegels, so that it makes little difference with whom you work.

André Kegels must be one of the best, if not the best, Belgian lawyers in the shipping and transport sector. He is very knowledgeable, hands-on, responsive, and keeps on at it until the result is achieved. Highly recommended.

Unique knowledge of maritime law in Belgium, very responsive and particularly strong on the customs and litigation side.

Dirk Noels has a wealth of experience in maritime law, customs law and insurance matters. He has a very commercial and solution-oriented approach.

The team led by André Kegels is very responsive and conscious of the very tight timelines and deadlines which are common in marine litigation.

‘I find André Kegels to be totally in tune with what is required. His experience is hugely important in giving clients objective advice and key to being able to do exactly what is required.

André Kegels is outstanding in terms of legal and social skills. One simply loves to be in touch with him, professionally. He is an excellent ambassador for his home city of Antwerp and the whole of the country.

‘Always prepared, ready to deal with last-minutes issues and able to cover a broad set of disciplines, not only liability. Customs law is a very specific part of the logistical chain with huge consequences, and in this field Kegels & Co is the top firm!’

Roosendaal Keyzer

Antwerp-based Roosendaal Keyzer has forged a strong reputation among clients from the shipping sector for handling both contentious and non-contentious matters. Practice co-heads Frank Roosendaal and Luc Keyzer handle both wet and dry shipping matters, ranging from commercial disputes and cargo or collision claims to insurance issues, warehousing and logistics advice. The team also has collective expertise in CMR notes, as well as the carriage of goods by rail and air.

Practice head(s):

Frank Roosendaal; Luc Keyzer

Allen & Overy LLP

At Allen & Overy LLP, the multi-disciplinary infrastructure and transport practice handles banking and finance, corporate and M&A, public law and tax-related matters for clients in the aviation, shipping, rail and road sectors. Recent work includes disputes concerning airport contracts, antitrust damages and liability claims, maritime project and asset financing, and general regulatory assistance. Werner Eyskens and Filip Tanghe co-head the team; Eyskens is a specialist litigator and Tanghe often advises on the financing of PPP projects.

Practice head(s):

Werner Eyskens; Filip Tanghe

Ambos

Ambos leverages its multi-disciplinary expertise to advise transport clients on administrative, labour, environmental, company and corporate law matters. Antwerp-based practice head Ingrid Van Clemen leads the shipping team, with particular expertise in maritime litigation, while Ghent-based practice head Peter Van de Vijver specialises in general transport law and port-related activities. Other strengths include contract drafting and advisory work in the logistics sector. In a recent highlight, Van de Vijver represented clothing retailer JBC in court proceedings over an electronic platform for product returns.

Practice head(s):

Ingrid Van Clemen; Peter Van de Vijver

Testimonials

Ingrid van Clemen is a very emphatic and professional specialist.

Quick responses, availability of senior lawyers, wide range of knowledge on different transport modes, reasonable fees and usually back-up available on any case.

Ingrid Van Clemen always gives a realistic assessment of the chances of success in procedures and takes into account client input much more than any other solicitor I have worked with.

Key clients

Grimaldi Lines

Eurochem

Stukwerkers

Port Authority Ghent

Unicarriers (Mitsubishi)

Compagnie Belge de Manutention

Belgian P & I

Lalemant

MSC PSA Terminal

DP World Antwerp

Ministry of Transport

Ministry of Health

GWM Surveys

Navonus

Europe Cargo

Citrosuco

Delhaize

Assuvan

Sea tank Terminal

CH Robinson

Euro Silo

Steder Group

De Baerdemaecker

I-Motion Shipping

Belgian New Fruit Wharf

Multraship

RDW Stevedoring

IMCS Surveys

Flemish Pilot Autority

Work highlights

  • Advising Grimaldi Lines on dangerous byloads in roro cargo.
  • Advising Umicore on its negotiations with Maersk Line over a new contract of carriage for the carriage of waste.
  • Representing the Ministry of Transport of Belgium in several proceedings with regard to criminal or administrative fines for infringements of nautical regulations.

Leeward

As a transport, logistics and maritime boutique, Leeward specialises in liability and risk issues relating to the movement of goods, as well as handling real estate transactions, transport company mergers and port-related matters. The practice, led jointly by Lino Verbeke, Jeroen Villé and Armin Wintein, is noted for its ‘good mix of experienced counsels and younger talent’, and counts public authorities such as the Federal Public Service for Mobility and Transport among its clients. Villé typically provides logistics-oriented advice, while Wintein often assists insurers and shipping companies with purchases and damages recovery claims.

Practice head(s):

Lino Verbeke; Jeroen Villé; Armin Wintein

Testimonials

Good mix of experienced counsels and younger talent all with a passion for transport and shipping. Well connected in the Flemish ports. Quick in responding. Elaborate advice but easy to understand because of their down-to-earth language.

Key clients

Greenyard

Agristo

P&O Ferries

ECS2XL

International Car Operators

Widem Logistics

Post&c°

Intertrans

GEOxyz

Ghent Transport and Storage

UECC

POM West-Flanders

VOS Logistics

Green Mobility Group

Kreiss

Federal Public Service for Mobility and Transport

Work highlights

  • Advised P&O Ferries on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on charter agreements.
  • Assisted shipping company UECC concerning the arrest of a vehicle-carrier vessel in the port of Antwerp.
  • Representing the Federal Public Service for Mobility and Transport in various maritime cases before the Belgian courts.

Deloitte

Deloitte benefits from a multi-disciplinary transport and logistics practice group which also has experience in the port and harbour sector. It leverages Brussels-based Kathleen De hornois' public law experience to advise on implementing legislation, the setting up of regional mobility plans and infrastructure projects for the Flemish government. Antwerp-based duo Marc Van tieghem and Tim Baart also offer advice on corporate agreements, M&A and financial reorganisations.

Practice head(s):

Kathleen De hornois; Marc Van tieghem; Tim Baart

Key clients

De Vlaamse Waterweg (previously Waterwegen en Zeekanaal and De Scheepvaart)

NMBS/SNCB

Vlaamse overheid – Departement Mobiliteit en Openbare Werken (Department of Mobility and Public Works)

Agentschap voor Maritieme Dienstverlening en Kust (Flemish Agency for Maritime and Coastal Services)

DLA Piper

At DLA Piper, the cross-departmental infrastructure, construction and transport group is active in the aviation, rail and shipping sectors, typically advising on EU legislation, public procurement and new development projects. Regulatory expert Bob Martens co-heads the team alongside finance and restructuring specialist Ilse Van de Mierop; both also handle contentious matters and count ground handlers, logistics providers, contractor consortiums and domestic operators among their clients.

Practice head(s):

Bob Martens; Ilse Van de Mierop

Key clients

Aviapartner

Bird Rides Inc./LMTS Belgium SRL

BD myShopi/BD Smart Logistics

BOMBARDIER

Colas

Emirates

Fastned

Flying Group

Infrabel

Jump Belgium

Régie Autonome des Transports Parisiens Group (RATP Group)

Sabena (in bankruptcy)

Sabena Aerospace Engineering

Skeyes (formerly Belgocontrol)

Skytanking

SNCB/NMBS

Talison Lithium

TCR

THV via T Albert Bouw 2 (a bidding consortium composed of Franki Construct SA, Hye NV, Aelterman BVBA and Willemen Construct NV)

Transuniverse Group NV

Work highlights

  • Assisting Skeyes (formerly Belgocontrol), the entity in charge of air traffic control in Belgian airspace, in relation to staffing issues and social conflicts which caused disruptions to the continuity of air traffic control services in 2019.
  • Assisting the largest contractors’ consortium in Belgium with a bid for the €3.6bn Oosterweel Link project.
  • Advised Jump, an Uber affiliate providing on-demand use of electronic bikes and scooters, on the steps and formalities required to start activities in Belgium.

Kennedys

Kennedys handles both contentious and non-contentious matters in the transport sector, ranging from cargo and freight liability claims and contracts advice to subrogated recoveries and risk management issues. The team continues to benefit from the firm's insurance sector specialism, with referrals from global insurers including AXA and AIG. Practice head Dimitri de Bournonville advises on EU regulatory issues, disputes and commercial transactions for aviation clients including Ryanair, Finnair and Etihad Airways, as well as aircraft lessors and new industry investors.

Practice head(s):

Dimitri de Bournonville

Key clients

Ace Belgian Freighters

ACE Cargo

AIG

Air Belgium

Air Transport Services Group

ASL Airlines Belgium

ASL Aviation Group

Atkins

Aviabel

Avolon

AXA

BH AIR

CAL Cargo Airlines

Charles Taylor Adjusting

Dantec

Delvag

DHL

Emirates

Etihad Airways

Fedex / TNT Express

Finnair

Girteka

Global Aerospace

HungaroControl

Iberia

JP Ryan

LOT Polish Airlines

Luxair

Macquarie Air Finance

Norddeutsche Landesbank

RV Transport

Ryanair

Shannon Engine Support

Silversea

Swiss International Airlines

Swissport

TOLL Group

TVS Asianics

Vlantana

Vueling

Work highlights

  • Advising Atkins on reporting to the European Investment Bank regarding projects on urban air mobility and the applicable regulatory framework in general.
  • Representing Silversea and its subsidiaries and insurers in a personal injury matter.
  • Representing Dantec and its insurer in a dispute before the Antwerp courts over the alleged non-compliance of hoses delivered to Noord Natie Terminals.

Liedekerke Wolters Waelbroeck Kirkpatrick

The Liedekerke Wolters Waelbroeck Kirkpatrick transport and aviation practice is praised for its 'to-the-point advice' on disputes, advisory and transactional matters. Counsel Jean Pierre Kesteloot leads the team and advises clients across the transport sector on marine charters, road carriage issues and insurance claims. Throughout 2020, the team also advised airlines, customers and logistics handlers on the various practical and financial implications of the Covid-19 pandemic. Contracts specialist Olivier Vanden Berghe is another key name.

Practice head(s):

Jean Pierre Kesteloot

Other key lawyers:

Olivier Vanden Berghe

Testimonials

To-the-point advice, which enables the client to take optimal decisions.’

Imaginative thinking in innovation projects linked to the industry.

Very reactive, to-the-point and practical answers.’

Key clients

DHL International

Iberia Lineas Aereas de Espana

NMBS/SNCB

Uber

BCA Europe Transport Solutions

Aviabel

Brussels Airlines

Sonaca

Attitrade

Work highlights

  • Assisting Iberia in the context of numerous passenger claims regarding compensation and assistance in the event of denied boarding and the cancellation or long delay of flights.
  • Advising Brussels Airlines in relation to the reimbursement of cancelled package holidays following the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • Assisting the National Railway Company of Belgium in relation to remote document signatures.

Lydian

Lydian's port and logistics department comprises corporate, commercial, insurance and real estate experts, meaning it is well equipped to advise on logistics outsourcings, transport-related accidents and associated damages cases, alongside new infrastructure projects and developments. Yves Lenders heads the practice – which counts Lineas Group as its foremost client – with notable experience in litigation and contracts accompanying his general focus on the railway sector.

Practice head(s):

Yves Lenders

Key clients

Lineas

De Lijn

STIB-MIVB

Water-link OV

Transport & Logistiek Advocaten

Boutique firm Transport & Logistiek Advocaten 'lives and breathes transport law like no other', to the benefit of clients including insurance companies and brokers, logistics service providers, warehouses and shippers. Founding partner Frederik Vanden Bogaerde is considered 'a legal polymath for everything related to this sector', with his expertise most evident in unfair competition claims and cargo disputes. Mathias Dendievel is another name of note, while Vincent Van der Mast handles all freight invoice recovery and tax-related cases.

Practice head(s):

Frederik Vanden Bogaerde; Vincent Van der Mast; Mathias Dendievel

Testimonials

TLA is an excellent niche law office for the transport sector in Belgium. It combines knowledge about specific transportation-related legislation with knowledge about the aspects of other legal disciplines that are relevant for this sector (such as labour law).

One can rely on TLA for no-nonsense advice. With in-depth knowledge about the transport market, TLA proves to be a solid interlocutor.

International network, specialised in transport and related issues, 24/7 accessibility. In comparison to other law firms, it is proactive and has up-to-date information in the case of new legislation which, if necessary, is commented on with their vision, concerns and tips for application in our company.

Frederik Vanden Bogaerde and his team are highly specialised in transport-related legal issues. Just like ourselves, they think in solutions, not in problems. They live and breathe transport law like no other firm.

Besides his evident expertise, I appreciate the reachability and speed of service of Frederik Vanden Bogaerde, as well as the way in which we can brainstorm about feasible scenarios for implementation.

Frederik Vanden Bogaerde is a legal polymath for everything related to this sector.

Mathias Dendievel stands out for his willingness to accept and discuss (legal) input from his client, and is not stubborn like other lawyers. Frederik Vanden Bogaerde supervises all files in the background, which gives great comfort to the client. We can always count on clear and straightforward legal advice from them.

Norton Rose Fulbright

Clients appreciate Norton Rose Fulbright's 'pragmatic approach to solving issues'. The team leverages the firm-wide competition expertise to assist clients in the transport sector, specifically the aviation, rail and shipping industries, as well as advising on public procurement, regulatory matters, damages procedures and M&A issues. Practice head Jay Modrall and Michael Jürgen Werner are particularly active in merger reviews and infrastructure developments.

Practice head(s):

Jay Modrall

Other key lawyers:

Michael Jürgen Werner

Testimonials

‘The team are very experienced in European matters and very well connected in Brussels. They have a pragmatic approach to solving issues.’

Key clients

Imperial International Holdings

Delta Airlines

Watco LLC

APG/Apollo Group

Mitsubishi Corporation

Imperial Logistics International

CTC Canadian Tire Corporation

German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure

Work highlights

  • Assisting Imperial Logistics International with the sale of its inland waterway shipping business to Häfen und Güterverkehr Köln AG (HGK), the operator of the Port of Cologne, Germany.
  • Advising and representing Imperial International Holding in follow-on damages litigation against several members of the so-called truck cartel, one of the largest follow-on damages actions in the aftermath of an EU Commission cartel decision,
  • Advising the German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure on regulatory issues relating to three major infrastructure projects (the A1, A3 and B247).

Reed Smith

Reed Smith opened a new Brussels office in January 2020, with a transport practice that advises clients across the aviation, logistics and shipping sectors on EU law and competition matters. Joint practice heads Christian Filippitsch, Geert Goeteyn and Isabelle Rahman are the key contacts.

Practice head(s):

Christian Filippitsch; Geert Goeteyn; Isabelle Rahman