Not-for-profit in Belgium
ALTIUS' cross-disciplinary team, which is led by Jérôme Vermeylen, is knowledgeable about all the issues that are core to the functioning of NPOs. The group has expertise in matters such as competition, corporate, dispute resolution, intellectual property and employment. Vermeylen assists the Council of European Energy Regulators with various matters; recent work includes advising the client on its governance, and also the amendment of certain provisions of its articles of association and internal rules. Carmen Verdonck and Beatrijs Gielen recently represented BBGZ (Association of Stevedores at the Port of Zeebrugge) at the Belgian Supreme Court in an appeal by the Belgian Competition Authority (BCA) of the Brussels Court of Appeal's judgment that the BCA's dawn raids to investigate possible price-fixing practices at the Ports of Zeebrugge, Ghent and Antwerp were unlawful. The firm also acts for many other types of clients, including charities, sports federations and healthcare institutes. Gerrit Vandendriessche, Olivier Vrins and associate Jan Clinck are other names to note.
Ashurst LLP is praised for its 'extraordinary level of support' to clients based in Belgium and further afield; clients 'can't fault it'. Its multidisciplinary team is led by David Du Pont, who has nearly 20 years of experience undertaking complex corporate and real estate matters for not-for-profit associations in Belgium. A recent mandate saw Du Pont, senior associate Jörg Heirman and counsel Irene Antypas act for ATC (the technical committee of Petroleum Additive Manufacturers in Europe) on the establishment of an international association which will act as a trade association (aimed at representing the interests of the oil sector before the European institutions). Elsewhere, clients also turn to the firm for advice on employment, EU regulatory and dispute resolution. Cosmetics Europe, Resource Matters and European Roma Rights Centre are active clients of the group, which 'communicates quickly and professionally'.
Bird & Bird's prominence in the not-for-profit sphere has made it a first port-of-call for Belgium-based trade and industry associations, European scientific institutions, and other international NPOs. The firm draws upon strengths across multiple practice areas to cover a wide range of issues. Paul Hermant has more than 20 years of experience advising international associations and federations on their structure, membership, governance and M&A. Hermant co-heads the practice with Brent Springael, who is the head of the tax group in Brussels. Other notable individuals include competition partner Anne Federle and senior associate Mathieu Relange, who assisted the European Petroleum Refiners Association (Fuels Europe) with an antitrust audit. The firm also has experts in areas such as employment law, intellectual property and data protection. Hein Hobbelen, whose practice is split between Brussels and The Hague, is also recommended.
CURIA's team, which delivers 'clear and well-considered advice', has 'unique experience and know-how in the not-for-proft sector', making it the leading firm in this area. The team handles a wide range of matters for its clients, which include non-governmental organisations (NGOs), universities, pharmaceutical associations, academic hospitals, government institutions and philanthropy funds. Senior counsel Yvette Verleisdonk advises clients on instruments used for social impact investing, such as social impact bonds and crowdfunding, among others. Counsels Sarah Verschaeve and Evelyne Maes are among other names to note in the group, which demonstrates 'real team work, delivering the right answers to all legal issues that a not-for-profit can have'. Since research concluded, Marleen Denef and Benoit Spitaels joined Impact Lawyers. Yves Thiery moved to an in-house position. Sarah van den Brande joined Liedekerke Wolters Waelbroeck Kirkpatrick in April 2019.
DLA Piper has a firm commitment to pro bono work, as is evidenced by its ‘New Perimeter’ programme, which is intended to provide long-term legal support in emerging markets worldwide. Another initiative involved advising the EU Covenant on Demographic Change on the setup of a recently-launched EU-wide non-profit entity, which currently has more than 180 international members. In addition, the Brussels Life Sciences team has entered into a global agreement to provide free global legal services on a world-wide scale to the European Association for Rare Diseases. Beyond pro bono work, the firm provides extensive support to non-profit organisations that are active in the health, elderly care, housing and education sectors. Key contacts include Annelies Verlinden, Johan Mouraux, Bob Martens, Dirk Caestecker and lead lawyer Evelien De Raeymaecker.
Eubelius draws upon its strengths across multiple practice areas to advise Belgian and international non-profit organisations, associations and foundations on their most important operational issues. Having advised the International Food Waste Coalition on its incorporation as an international non-profit organisation in 2014, the firm has been assisting the client with changes to its governance structure. Matthias Wauters and counsel Tom Villé are acting for VZW Sint-Anna on a mixed-use real estate development project. Another key figure is Véronique Pertry, who has expertise in employment (individual and collective) and pensions law matters. Other notable individuals in the group are Marieke Wyckaert, Frank Hellemans and Barteld Schutyser. Counsels Korneel Decroix and Liesbet Vandenplas are also noted.
KOAN Law Firm’s ‘very skilled’ team ‘combines technical knowledge, practicality and thoroughness in its approach to advising non-profits’; it is ‘very responsive and provides clear answers that a layperson understands’. 'Client-focused and perfectionist lawyer' Antoine Druetz heads up the multidisciplinary group, which is 'able and willing to work at short notice, and within short time frames'; 'the coordination between practitioners appears to be seamless'. It advises Belgian and European non-profit organisations and trade associations from a wide range of industries on incorporation, governance, financing, management, M&A and liquidation. Also notable is that clients count on the employment law expertise of Robert De Baerdemaeker, as well as Pierre Willemart’s VAT and tax law knowledge. Agnès Maqua and Christine De Keersmaeker are sought out for their strengths in commercial law, intellectual property and privacy law. Druetz and associate Alix Degrez assisted The Geneva Headquarters of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies with a cross-border group restructuring. Other clients include Science Europe, Federation of European and International Associations Established in Belgium and Special Olympics Belgium.
Loyens & Loeff has a varied portfolio of work, owing to its extensive experience of advising non-profit organisations and trade associations on all aspects of their strategic operational issues, as well as litigation. Grégoire Jakhian, who founded the practice, has expertise in M&A transactions, real estate and dispute resolution, among other areas. Jakhian and others act for clients from various sectors, including food and beverage, sport, IT and charities.
At Osborne Clarke, Ruth Wirtz’s ‘personal involvement is greatly valued’ by a wide range of clients, including charities, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), hospitals, and trade and lobbying associations. Wirtz, who leads the practice, and has nearly 20 years of experience of the non-profit sector, has expertise in contractual disputes, and Belgian and cross-border mergers and restructurings. In 2017, Wirtz advised the European Chemical Industry Council on revising its corporate governance rules. Hadrien Chef assisted Actiris with setting up a social impact bonds programme.
Pierstone’s not-for-profit practice is jointly led by Giulia Mauri and Patrice Vanderbeeken. It attracts a broad cross-section of mandates from clients, including those concerning contractual matters, intellectual property, IT issues and corporate governance. Mauri serves as the chairperson of the European and Legal Affairs Committee of the European Business Aviation Association, and is also an active member of the Public Affairs Committee of the European Regions Airlines Association. Vanderbeeke acts for not-for-profit associations in areas such as life sciences, high tech and energy. Clients include ThinkYoung, Meters and More, and Prime Alliance.