Industry focus: Transport in Belgium
Attracting praise for its 'proactive and out-of-the-box thinking', ASTREA BV CVBA's transport and logistics team combines 'multi-jurisdictional strengths, seasoned experience and a hands-on approach to deliver practical, cost-effective results'. The group, which is spread across the firm's Antwerp and Brussels offices, is particularly strong in the maritime and shipping sector. Commercial partner Marc Van Looveren focuses on shipping, logistics and ship arrests, and heads up the practice, which includes Louis Verstraeten and associate Ruud De Houwer, who focus predominantly on dry and wet shipping matters, respectively. All individuals noted are based in Antwerp.
‘Quick and efficient assistance, no beating around the bush.‘
‘Very strong particularly for all aspects of shipping, handling some of the most high-profile work in that sector.‘
‘No ordinary classic law firm.‘
‘Astrea has a drive to push the cases entrusted to them forward with the other law firms and with the courts thereby saving time and money for the client. Information circulates within the Law firm. Willingness to listen to the client and accept operational advice. This is particularly important in maritime matters.‘
‘Even in long proceedings, the alertness and ready knowledge of the case remains very high.‘
‘They will proactively inform us about changes in relevant legislation. In case of an incident Astrea will prepare all necessary work and documentation immediately to provide us with the best legal advice and solution, they come up with creative and out of the box ideas.‘
‘Marc van Looveren and Kiki Block have solid knowledge, a hands-on approach. They are swift, efficient and cost-conscious.‘
‘The team has multi-jurisdictional strengths, combined with competence, seasoned experience and a hands-on approach delivering practical, cost-effective results.‘
‘Ruud De Houwer, together with his colleague Mark Vanlooveren, they have proven many times to be exceptional legal talents.‘
‘They stand out because of their undisputed knowledge of the sector, not only regarding to the legal knowledge but also to daily practice in the maritime world. They can always provide us the most accurate advice and assistance.‘
Lukoil Benelux BV
Belgian Federal Government – Department of Transport and Mobility
Belgian Federal Government – Department of Health and Environment
Heros Sluiskil BV
Jansen Air & Ocean
- Advised the Belgian Federal Government with detaining the MV Basel Express in the Port of Antwerp as a result of numerous non-compliances with international and European law.
- Acting in a Federal Public Service Transport & Mobility collision case involving the mv. Flinterstar, which was hit by the gas tanker MV Al Oraiq.
- Assisting Ritelane Maritime, the owners of MV Rainbow Harmony, following the arrest of the ship in the port of Ghent over an alleged loss of income claim.
Traditionally a maritime and shipping firm, Fransen Luyten now handles a varied range of transport law issues spanning commercial law, insolvency law, ship finance, civil law, labour law and penal law mandates. Practice head Wim Fransen is frequently instructed in disputes regarding marine insurance law, while Tom Luyten is a name to note for marine casualty work and international contract negotiations. Vincent Fransen has experience in ship finance and arrest proceedings.
Antwerp-based Roosendaal Keyzer handles a range of contentious and non-contentious maritime and shipping matters. Frank Roosendaal and Luc Keyzer jointly head up the practice and advise on a variety of wet and dry shipping work, ranging from commercial disputes, cargo and collision claims and insurance matters to warehousing and logistics advice.
Allen & Overy LLP
Allen & Overy LLP's infrastructure and transport practice group fields a multidisciplinary team, which works across the aviation, shipping, rail and road transport industries. The team handles a range contentious and non-contentious matters and projects; litigator Werner Eyskens has particular experience advising transportation and infrastructure clients, including major dredging companies, airlines and airports. Other names to note include Filip Tanghe and Helga Van Peer, who focus on PPP project financings and public law matters respectively.
Jan De Nul Group
European Investment bank
HSBC, ING Bank, KBC Bank
- Instructed by Brussels Airport Company to advise on a range of issues relating to airport noise and noise restrictions for the airport The group is also representing the company in noise litigation brought by Brussels’ residents.
- Acting for the successful consortium consisting of Jan De Nul, Besix and Fabricom on a DBM project relating to the renovation and maintenance of the Leopold II tunnel in Brussels, Belgium.
- Advised GeoSea Luxembourg and its subsidiaries and associated companies on a leasing transaction with respect to GeoSea’s financing for Apollo, a self-propelled DP2 jack-up vessel and one of the most recent additions to GeoSea’s fleet.
The transport law practice at Ambos NBGO Advocaten combines maritime and transport expertise with multidisciplinary capabilities across the corporate, employment and IP teams. The group handles a range of traditional maritime and transport matters and advises clients on new challenges in the industry; recent highlights include representing Estelle Shipping, as owners of MV Pacific Express which was attacked by pirates in the Indian Ocean, acting in claims by cargo owners, and assisting Parcify, a subsidiary of the Belgian postal service, with establishing an electronic platform which used private individuals for the transportation of packages. The team is jointly led by Antwerp-based shipping expert Ingrid Van Clemen and Peter Van De Vijver, who is based in Ghent.
Port Authority Ghent
Compagnie Belge de Manutention
MSC PSA Terminal
DP World Antwerp
Ministry of Transport
Ministry of Health
Sea tank Terminal
Belgian New Fruit Wharf
- Assisted Parcify, a subsidiary of the Belgian postal service, with the use of an electronic platform linking individuals for the transport of packages.
- Representing ship owner, Estelle Shipping Ltd, in claims brought by cargo owners following a pirate attack in the Indian Ocean on the client’s ship.
- Advising I-Motion Shipping, a joint venture between stevedore Stukwerkers and road trucking company Master Bulk, on its new RoRo ferry services between the Port of Ghent and two UK ports.
Antwerp-based boutique Kegels & Co Advocaten has carved a niche in port, maritime and shipping law issues and provides a breadth of experience to its clients, which include insurers, charter parties, shipowners, port authorities, cargo owners, P&I clubs and investors. The group is strong for both wet shipping issues — a key area for André Kegels, who is frequently instructed on large collusion work — and dry shipping matters, including contractual and compliance advice. Kegels jointly heads up the practice alongside experienced litigator Dirk Noels, who handles a range of contentious matters including regulatory disputes, anti-dumping and insurance claims, and contractual disputes.
Leeward is a 'well-respected' Bruges-based transport, logistics and maritime boutique, which attracts praise for its 'excellent communication', 'speed of reaction' and 'knowledge of international transport law'. The practice handles a range of contentious and non-contentious corporate, real estate and commercial matters, with particular experience in liability, admiralty and risk issues relating to the transportation of goods. Lino Verbeke, who specialises in maritime law and insurance matters, heads up the team alongside Jeroen Villé and Armin Wintein.
‘Lino Verbeke is the peer I would call to discuss complex CMR matters with, just to see if he has some interesting ideas (even though he is based in Belgium and I am in the Netherlands).‘
‘Even if the cases are very urgent, Jeroen is always there to assist. He responds super quickly with practical and very useful advice.‘
‘As they are not Antwerp or Brussels based, this also reflects in their lower overheads with fees that are much more moderate than the sometimes seriously inflated fee notes of their competitors. Serious people doing serious business.‘
‘Jeroen Villé is very to the point and comes up with practical solutions and suggestions for complex problems. He was a great help in situations that were not standard at all.‘
‘Lino Verbeke and Armin Wintein are both very accessible. When commenting on the merits of a case, their advice is always appreciated by our clients who like the no nonsense approach.‘
International Car Operators
Ghent Transport and Storage
- Representing a Belgian fishery company and its maritime insurers in the aftermath of a collision between a Belgian fishing vessel and a Maltese cargo vessel in the English Channel
- Assisted Agristo with the legal aspects of the organisation of a transport tender.
- Acting for HDI Global SE, liability insurers of the Belgian railway undertaking Lineas, in a dozen judicial proceedings following the derailment of a freight train in 2013.
Deloitte’s multidisciplinary transport and logistics sector practice group combines ‘very good knowledge of the industry’ with corporate, commercial and regulatory experience. Kathleen De hornois, who is based in Brussels and focuses on public law, regulatory issues and permit work, heads up the team alongside Antwerp-based corporate and M&A specialists Marc Van tieghem and Tim Baart.
De Vlaamse Waterweg
NMBS / SNCB
Port of Antwerp
North Sea Port (previously Port of Ghent)
Vlaamse overheid – Departement Mobiliteit en Openbare Werken
Port of Zeebruges
- Assisted the Flemish Government with drafting new Flemish taxi legislation.
- Advised SNCB-NMBS on several matters including permits, spatial implementation plans, environmental impact studies and tax issues.
- Assisted the Port of Ghent (Belgium) with its merger with Zeeland Seaports (the Netherlands) and the creation of the North Sea Port.
DLA Piper's infrastructure, construction and transport sector group has particular expertise in the railway and light railway sectors, alongside significant experience in aviation, public procurement, port, habour and insurance issues and public infrastructure projects. The group fields a cross-departmental team, which includes litigation and regulatory, employment, finance, restructuring and tax specialists. Practice head Bob Martens and Annelies Verlinden handle a range of contentious and regulatory matters in the transport sector, while Ilse Van de Mierop focuses on finance and restructuring work, and Daniel Colgan is key name to note for competition law.
Régie Autonome des Transports Parisiens Group (RATP Group)
Sabena (in bankruptcy)
Sabena Aerospace Engineering
skeyes (formerly Belgocontrol)
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
- Acting for Sabena in high-profile litigation against SairGroup and SairLines relating to contractual liability and director’s liability issues and criminal charges arising from Sabena’s bankruptcy.
- Advised a consortium (which comprises DIF Infrastructure V as financial sponsor, and the French civil construction group Colas and the Spanish rolling stock manufacturer CAF as industrial sponsors) on all aspects of a PPP project with the Walloon transport agency for the design, construction, financing and maintenance of a tram line in the city of Liège.
- Representing Belgian rail infrastructure operator Infrabel in a claim brought by the contractors responsible for building the main railway station in Antwerp, for additional costs for the construction of the station.
Kennedys is particularly active in the aviation, road transport and logistics space, and is experienced in contentious and non-contentious matters. In addition to receiving instructions from transport sector clients including airlines and logistics providers, the team benefits from the firm's insurance sector specialism and receives referrals from a roster of insurers including AXA and AIG. Practice head Dimitri de Bournonville frequently advises on regulatory issues, litigation and commercial transactions in the aviation sector.
‘The Kennedys Brussels team is hands-on, knowledgeable and pleasant to work with.‘
‘Dimitri de Bournonville is knowledgeable, responsive and a reliable business partner for transportation matters. Excellent value for work done.‘
Fedex / TNT Express
Swiss International Airlines
Macquarie Air Finance
ASL Aviation Group
ASL Airlines Belgium
Shannon Engine Support
CAL Cargo Airlines
LOT Polish Airlines
Ace Belgian Freighters
Charles Taylor Adjusting
- Assisting TVS Asianics, an Asian-based supply chain specialist, with the negotiation of global transportation agreements for technological products with Siemens and Daimler.
- Advising TOLL Group on the drafting and negotiation of diverse transportation agreements.
- Representing Irish road transportation company, JP Ryan, before the courts in Ghent in litigation relating to the alleged contamination of a load delivered to the claimant.
Liedekerke Wolters Waelbroeck Kirkpatrick’s transport and aviation practice handles a range of advisory, transactional and litigation work for its client roster, which includes DHL International, Brussels Airlines and Uber. Counsel Jean Pierre Kesteloot has a breadth of contentious expertise across the aviation, shipping, railway, road carriage and insurance sectors, and heads up the practice, which can leverage the firm's full-service capabilities on a range of issues including corporate, finance, employment and competition matters.
Iberia Lineas Aereas de Espana
NMBS / SNCB
BCA Europe Transport Solutions
- Representing Iberia in numerous passenger claims.
- Acting for SNCB, the national railway company of Belgium, in a preliminary question before the Court of Justice of the European Union, related to the European regulations on passenger rights.
- Acting for Uber in several cases before the Council of State relating to the regional legislation on taxis.
Lydian's transport practice is singled out for its expertise in port projects, port developments, railway accidents and logistics outsourcing projects. The group handles commercial and contentious matters for its clients, which include STIB-MIVB and Lineas Group, and works closely with the other departments including the employment, public law and M&A teams. Yves Lenders, who is particularly active in railway sector litigation, heads up the team.
Port + NV
- Representing Lineas in a case regarding the derailment of a freight train in Sinaai (Belgium).
- Acting for Lineas in a claim against a German railway owner for damages suffered as a result of defective infrastructure.
- Advised Port+ on commercial and contractual matters relating to its services to shipping agencies.
Norton Rose Fulbright is recognised for its antitrust and competition expertise and frequently assists clients in the transport sector, including the aviation, rail and shipping industries. The group advises on public procurement, state aid and regulatory matters, as well as merger control issues. Group leader Jay Modrall and Michael Jürgen Werner are particularly active in the transport and infrastructure sectors. Christian Filippitsch moved to Reed Smith.
Samvardhana Motherson Group
- Advised Indian automotive component group Samvardhana Motherson on its acquisition of Reydel Automotive.
- Advising leading European shipping company Stena and its subsidiary Stena Rederi on the merger control and competition law aspects of its joint venture with the leading global car carrier Hyundai Glovis Co.
- Advised BMW on the establishment of the Carsharing JV with Daimler.
Stibbe fields a multidisciplinary team, which advises clients in the infrastructure and transport sectors on a range of matters including public procurement issues, construction work, planning and permit mandates, regulatory challenges and environmental law issues. Names to note include public law expert Frederik Vandendriessche and real estate and construction specialist Rony Vermeersch.