General terms and conditions
1.1. Laurius cvba (the “Firm”) is a cooperative company with limited liability incorporated under Belgian law and its purpose is to practice law in the broadest sense of the word. The Firm is registered with the Crossroads Bank for Enterprises under number 0880.655.773 and has its registered office at Oudeleeuwenrui 19, 2000 Antwerp. The Office has offices in 2000 Antwerp, Oudeleeuwenrui 19, and in 1040 Brussels, Louis Schmidtlaan 29, box 1.
1.2. All attorneys working in the Firm comply with the conditions set out in section 428-438 of the Belgian Judicial Code and are members of either the “Orde van Vlaamse balies” or the “Ordre des barreaux francophones et germanophone de Belgique”. The attorneys in the attorneys’ association are subject to the deontological regulations (hereinafter the “Regulations”) issued by the bar association to which they are respectively affiliated.
1.3. All attorneys in the Firm are subject to the rules and regulations of the Order of Flemish Bars or of the “Ordre des barreaux francophones et germanophone de Belgique” (Avocats.be) and of the National Bar Association. You can consult these Regulations via:
1.4. In addition, the rules of the Bar of Antwerp (www.balieantwerpen.be) and/or of the Bars of Brussels (Codex 2012; https://www.baliebrussel.be/) or (Règles de déontologie (www.barreaubruxelles.be) are also applicable.
1.5 Should you have a complaint, please contact the attorney handling your case or one of the partners of Laurius cvba. Should the complaint not be resolved, please contact the President of the Antwerp Bar and/or the Brussels Bar. Please consult https://www.advocaat.be/zoek-een-advocaat/ or Annuaire (www.barreaubruxelles.be) to find out which Bar your attorney belongs to.
The President of the Antwerp Bar is located at the Courthouse, Bolivarplaats 20/15, 2000 Antwerp, phone 03 260 72 50, fax 03 260 72 71 and e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
The President of the Brussels Bar Association is located at the Courthouse, 1000 Brussels, Place Poelaert, phone 02 508 67 62, fax 02 514 22 66 and e-mail email@example.com (for the Dutch-speaking Brussels Bar Association) and phone 02 508 66 59, fax 02 508 64 53 and e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org (for the French-speaking Brussels Bar Association).
2 Letter of Engagement
2.1. The Firm – and not the individual attorneys – provides the services (the “Services”) in accordance with the written general terms and conditions (“General Terms and Conditions”). The practical aspects of the work and the exact object of the assignment are described in an Engagement Letter. The client will provide the Firm with the necessary, complete and accurate information and guidelines to perform the Services requested.
3 Fees and expenses
3.1. The Services are customarily, but not exclusively, charged on the basis of the applicable hourly rates (plus 8% office expenses and 21% VAT), which vary according to the experience and degree of specialisation of the attorney involved. The hourly rates of the attorneys involved are adjusted on a regular basis and at least annually to the level of seniority. When justified, e.g., because of the complex, innovative or value-creating nature of the work that is performed in the context of providing the Services or because of the need to meet a given deadline, the Firm can agree with the client to charge an appropriate additional amount. In some cases a success fee can be agreed upon. The hourly rates of the Firm are reviewed on a regular basis.
3.2. On top of the hourly rate, a fixed amount will be charged for administrative support, general costs, e-mails, fax, telephone and copies, etc. This amount equals 8% of the hourly rate.
3.3. Any estimate of fees is made in good faith, but is by no means binding, unless explicitly agreed otherwise in writing.
3.4. Expenses incurred on behalf of the client (such as the fees of experts and foreign attorneys, travel and catering expenses, the costs of courier services and special dispatch services, research and binding of documents, installations for video conferencing, any legal costs, etc.) are stated separately and invoiced at cost price. All these amounts are subject to VAT.
3.5. Statements of expenses and fees are payable 15 calendar days from the date of the fee note. In the event of late payment, interest will be charged at the rate specified in the Act of 2 August 2002 on combating late payment in commercial transactions. For consumers, the legal interest rate applies from the date of the first reminder. In the event of late payment, a lump-sum compensation for administration and extrajudicial debt collection costs of 10% of the principal amount, with a minimum of EUR 200.00, is also due, without prejudice to the right to claim a higher compensation on the condition of proof of higher actual damages.
3.6. In case the Client does not pay the full amount due within the stated payment term, the attorneys of the Firm are entitled to suspend their work in the various matters handled for the Client, after the Client has been informed thereof and without any liability on the part of the Firm or any of its attorneys for any damages resulting therefrom (e.g., but not limited to in case a course of legal action is not taken, a legal remedy is not filed or a hearing not attended as a consequence of non-payment and suspension of the Services).
3.7. Any complaints about the invoice or the Services to which the invoice relates must be made in writing to the Firm within thirty days from the date of the invoice, in default of which the client will be deemed to acknowledge the accuracy of and indebtedness to the invoice.
4.1. The client acknowledges that only the Firm can be held liable and not any individual attorney or employee of the Firm in particular. However, if the applicable law allows liability of partners, employees or agents of the Firm, these Terms and Conditions are also applicable to such persons.
4.2. The obligations of the Firm are purely a best-efforts obligation, unless otherwise agreed in writing. All attorneys are members of the professional liability insurance associations offered to them by the “Orde van Vlaamse balies” or “ordre des barreaux francophones et germanophone de Belgique” (Avocats.be). For the attorneys of the “Orde van Vlaamse balies”, these professional liability insurers are Amlin Europe NV, Koning Albert II-laan 9, 1210 Brussels and AG Insurance NV E. Jacqmainlaan 53, 1000 Brussels. For attorneys who are members of the “ordre des barreaux francophones et germanophone de Belgique”, this professional liability insurer is Ethias NV, Rue des Croisiers 24, 4000 Liège.
4.3. Any liability of the Firm, its affiliates and any persons involved in the execution of a client assignment or who might incur any liability in connection therewith will be limited to the amount covered under the applicable liability insurance policy or policies (with a minimum coverage of EUR 2,500,000) in the matter concerned, unless prevented by law. The Firm also has an additional insurance policy in second rank of EUR 5,000,000 and in third rank of EUR 10,000,000. Information on these professional liability insurances will be provided upon request. In case the professional liability insurance does not cover the damages, the liability of the Firm, of its affiliated persons and of all persons involved in the performance of the Firm’s services or on whom any liability could rest in relation thereto is limited to EUR 25.000, with the exception of wilful misconduct or fraud. Any claim against any person referred to in this section will lapse in any event if the Firm is not notified in writing of the claim within one year after the discovery of an event or circumstance which gives or may give rise to liability.
4.4. The Firm will not be liable for any shortcomings of third parties that are engaged in the performance of its services, regardless of whether such third parties have charged their fees and expenses to the Firm or directly to the Client.
4.5. The Firm will not be liable in case of force majeure or any other external cause beyond its control. The Firm is authorized to engage third parties in the name and for the account of the Firm in the performance of its Services, including other law firms. The Firm will exercise due care in selecting such third party. The Firm will not be liable for any acts or omissions of such third parties. The Firm is authorized by the client to accept any limitations of liability of such third party on behalf of the client.
4.6. Any funds that the Firm will receive from the client and that the Firm is required to hold for the client will be deposited in a trust account with a financial institution chosen by the Firm. The Firm excludes any liability towards the client or any other person for any failure or act or omission of a financial institution with whom the Firm holds monies or through whom monies are transferred. As a result, the Firm cannot be held liable to refund or transfer amounts that the financial institution in question is unable to pay back or transfer.
5 Confidentiality – intellectual property rights
5.1. In case the client provides the Firm with fax or email addresses for the purpose of sending documents, the Firm is entitled to assume that the client has taken adequate measures to ensure the security and confidentiality of the information provided to the Firm. The Firm will apply general, customary measures to secure information. Documents (whether or not containing confidential information) sent to the Client by email will not be encrypted unless the Client explicitly requests us in writing to encrypt outgoing email and the Firm agrees with the Client to implement mutually acceptable encryption standards and protocols.
The Firm will take all reasonable, customary measures to exclude viruses, or any other defect that may affect any computer or IT system, from emails and any attachments. However, it is the Client’s responsibility to take measures to protect his computer or IT system against any such viruses or defects and the Firm does not accept any liability for any loss or damages that may result from the receipt or use of electronic communications.
5.2. The Firm will keep all information strictly confidential in accordance with the Regulations. The Firm is entitled to disclose the identity of the client and information regarding client matters to other advisors of the client who are involved in a case the Firm is asked to investigate or analyse. The Firm is also allowed to refer to the name of the client (but not to the content of the case) in advertising, presentations to (potential) clients, professional guides and newspapers.
5.3. Copyrights and all other rights to advice, information and documentation provided to the client belong to the Firm. However, the client is authorized to use these materials for the purposes for which the Services are requested.
5.4. The Firm reserves the right to further develop and use the ideas, concepts, information or knowhow of any work provided to the Client. In case the client has received draft versions of documents (on paper, electronically or in any other form), the client will first discuss them with the Firm to determine whether they effectively meet the needs of the client before applying them.
6 Processing of personal data
6.1. With respect to the processing of personal data for the purposes of providing our services, the Firm will act as a data controller in the meaning of the European General Data Protection Regulation 2016/679 of 27 April 2016 and the Belgian Act of 30 July 2018 on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data, as amended or replaced from time to time.
6.2. The Firm processes the personal data of its clients for the following purposes: to communicate; to establish, execute and terminate agreements in relation to the Services; to make assessments and decisions on the terms of cooperation; to prevent, detect and investigate fraud or crime; to provide the Services; to improve the quality of the Services; to conduct research and analysis; to provide marketing information; to ensure the security of its premises and facilities; to manage its business and IT infrastructure; to handle complaints, feedback and enquiries; to comply with applicable legal and regulatory obligations; and to establish and/or defend its rights.
6.3. In case the Firm uses the contact details, including the e-mail address, of the client’s contacts to send them marketing communications, it will do so in compliance with the relevant Regulations. The named persons can at all times and free of charge object to receiving marketing communications from the Firm.
6.4. Data subjects have the right to request access and rectification or deletion of their personal data or restriction of processing in relation to the data subject or to object to the processing. Data subjects shall have the right to object, at any time, to processing of their personal data for direct marketing purposes, as well as the right to data portability. Data subjects also have the right to submit a complaint to a supervisory authority.
6.6. For all requests or other questions regarding the processing of the Client’s personal data, the Client can contact email@example.com
7 Application of anti-money laundering legislation
7.1. The Act of 18 September 2017 on the Prevention of Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing and Restricting the Use of Cash (hereinafter referred to as the Anti-Money Laundering Act) requires law firms such as the Firm to identify its clients, their directors and beneficial owners (UBOs).
7.2. The identification information to be provided by the client differs depending on whether the client is a natural person, a legal person, a trust, a fiduciary or a similar legal structure or a UBO. The client undertakes to spontaneously provide all documents on the basis of which the identification of such persons can be carried out and allows the Firm to store a copy of such documents in a special database. In addition, the client will inform the Firm as soon as possible of any change in his situation or capacity and will provide proof of such change. This information must be provided to the Firm before or at the time the business relationship with the Firm is entered into.
7.3. The Firm is legally obliged to take appropriate measures to evaluate the characteristics of its clients and the purpose and nature of the business relationship as part of its obligation of continuous vigilance. Therefore, the client agrees to provide all information about his own characteristics that the Firm considers relevant.
7.4. When assisting the client in his defence or in the assessment of his legal position, the Firm is strictly bound to professional secrecy. However, in specific situations as described in the anti-money laundering legislation, the Firm is obliged to inform the President of the Bar Association as soon as the Firm knows, suspects or has reasonable grounds to believe that funds, transactions (or attempts to perform such transactions) or facts related to money laundering and the financing of terrorism are being used or performed. The President of the Bar Association, who supervises professional secrecy in the profession, will report any suspicions, if applicable, to the Financial Intelligence Processing Cell (CFI).
8 Termination of cooperation
8.1 The Firm reserves the right to terminate the assignment in case the client fails to properly remedy any illegal aspects of a case that is being analysed or in case the client fails to comply with any of his obligations as set forth in the Terms and Conditions and fails to remedy his contractual breach within 15 days after receiving a notice of default. The Firm is also entitled to terminate the assignment at any time by notifying the Client in writing. Unless the suspension of Services is justified by the fact that the Client has failed to pay one or more invoices, the Firm has to take into account, for the purpose of determining the moment of termination of Services, the possibility for the Client to obtain the necessary assistance of another attorney in due time.
8.2 The Client can terminate the contract at any time by informing the Firm in writing. The Firm will send the Client a final statement of fees and expenses, taking into account the Services rendered until termination of the contract.
8.3 The Firm will return to the client the original documents in the case file. After closing, the file will be retained for a maximum period of five years.
9 Competent court – choice of law
9.1 Parties agree that Belgian law shall exclusively govern General Terms and Conditions, and each agreement to which they relate, as well as the Services in general. All disputes shall be settled exclusively by the courts and tribunals of the district of Antwerp, Antwerp section. In the event of disputes with clients/consumers, the provisions of article 624, 1°, 2° and 4° of the Judicial Code shall apply, without prejudice to the application of Regulation (EU) No 1215/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 December 2012 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters.
10.1 By signing the engagement letter the client acknowledges that he acknowledges these General Terms and Conditions and accepts that the services agreement will be exclusively governed by these General Terms and Conditions, unless otherwise expressly agreed in writing between the client and the Firm. Any general terms and conditions of the client are therefore not applicable to the Services provided by the Firm.
These General Terms and Conditions are applicable not only to the initial Services provided by the client but also to any subsequent Services provided by the client unless otherwise agreed in writing.
Any amendment of or deviation from these General Terms and Conditions must be agreed upon in writing.
Should one of the provisions or part of a provision of these General Terms and Conditions be declared null and void or unenforceable, this shall not affect the validity of the remaining provisions.