These general terms and conditions apply to all cases handled and advice provided by the private limited liability company (“besloten vennootschap” / “société à responsabilité limitée”, abbreviated to “BV”/”SRL”) organised and existing under the laws of Belgium LAWTREE Advocaten, having its registered office at Van Schoonbekestraat 6 – 8, B-2018 Antwerp, with enterprise number 0651.621.452, hereinafter referred to as ‘LAWTREE Advocaten’, ‘we’ or ‘us’.
LAWTREE Advocaten aims to provide our clients with quality legal services in the most efficient way.
Experience shows that the relationship between clients and their lawyer benefits from a good understanding of the way in which fees and expenses are calculated.
If desired, we are prepared to conclude a specific agreement for a specific case or cases that sets out the terms and conditions of our involvement. In the absence of such a specific agreement, our general terms and conditions apply.
The client undertakes to provide us, as soon as possible, with all information and documents necessary to ensure the quality of the service, and the client guarantees the correct and lawful nature of such. The client also undertakes to treat all confidential information obtained in the context of the ongoing case discreetly and in accordance with its confidential or secret nature.
Our fees are primarily based on the time worked by our lawyers. Each of our lawyers charges an hourly rate and this rate, multiplied by the number of hours spent on a case, forms the basis for calculating our fees.
The basic amount thus calculated may be reduced or increased based on other factors specific to the case, such as its economic importance, as well as the complexity of the problems arising and the professional expertise required when handling the case.
Account is also taken of the degree of responsibility involved in the case, the priority given by us to our work, the efficiency of our work, the usual fees for similar legal services, the result achieved and other factors that allow us to determine an appropriate fee in the specific circumstances of each case.
Each fee statement that is sent to the client before the final statement is provisional.
If the client wishes, our lawyers are happy to make an estimate in advance of the foreseeable fees and expenses in a given case. However, we point out that such an estimate is inevitably based on a number of elements that are difficult to assess, so that it is impossible to predict with certainty the magnitude and complexity of the services that will be required.
We submit to our clients periodic statements of expenses and fees that relate to the services we have provided in a case. Usually this is done per month, but other billing periods are also possible. Fee statements are accompanied by a description of the services we provided.
LAWTREE[ED1] Advocaten reserves the right to demand payment of a retainer to cover initial services in the case. Such a retainer can also be requested if significant work has to be performed, or if certain expenses such as register duties have to be advanced.
Our expense and fee statements relate to fees for services rendered as well as office expenses. Office expenses that are charged cover the operating costs of our association. They are fixed at 5% (excluding VAT) of the amount of our fees, with the exception of special expenses (e.g. for travel and accommodation).
The fees of judicial officers, notaries or experts, as well as the fees owed and expenses incurred by them, including court costs, are always charged to the client separately.
PROTESTING A FEE STATEMENT
Protest of a fee statement must be submitted in writing within fifteen (15) days of the receipt thereof. Protests received after expiry of the period of fifteen (15) days will not be accepted.
Our expense and fee statements as well as the provision statements are payable within 14 days of receipt. In the absence of timely payment of our expense and fee statements, interest will be charged at the rate of 10% per year as well as lump sum compensation equal to 10% of the principal, with a minimum of EUR 250. In such a case, we may also be forced to suspend or terminate our professional relationship with you.
All lawyers are insured for their professional liability with Vanbreda Risk & Benefits NV under a professional liability and insolvency policy (AMLIN).
LAWTREE Advocaten will be liable for the services provided by us in accordance with the generally applicable rules of Belgian law, on the understanding that liability is in any case limited to the amount paid out by the relevant professional liability insurance. We therefore decline all liability for the excess/deductible amount and possible higher damages.
In accordance with the code of ethics, the liability of each lawyer is always covered up to an amount of EUR 1,250,000.00.
If and insofar as, for whatever reason, no payment should be made under the insurance referred to, each case of liability is limited to the amount of EUR 10,000.00.
Unless expressly stated otherwise, LAWTREE Advocaten is never liable for the services provided by the third parties it relies on. Unless expressly agreed otherwise in writing between the client and LAWTREE Advocaten, the client agrees that for the execution of its assignment, LAWTREE Advocaten may call on other lawyers for specific assignments.
If an appeal is made to a judicial officer, a notary or other expert, the client leaves the choice to LAWTREE Advocaten, unless expressly agreed otherwise. The client itself shall always settle the fee statements of these persons. LAWTREE Advocaten cannot be held liable for the payment of these expenses.
The client shall indemnify LAWTREE Advocaten against all claims by third parties in connection with or arising from the services rendered.
TERMINATION OF THE AGREEMENT
The client and LAWTREE Advocaten are entitled to terminate the agreement at any time, without compensation to the other party, insofar as the services rendered by LAWTREE Advocaten are remunerated. LAWTREE Advocaten is not entitled to terminate the agreement suddenly or abruptly in a way that could harm the interests of the client, except in the event that the client fails to pay the fees or provisions that are due.
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
LAWTREE Advocaten is a specialised law firm that serves a wide range of clients. We may now or in the future represent the interests of one or more clients in negotiations, proceedings or other dealings involving yourself or any individuals or companies associated with you. For example, we may represent other clients in commercial transactions (such as the preparation and drafting of agreements, licenses, etc.) or other transactions or proceedings in which we do not act as your counsel.
Unless otherwise agreed, we understand that you agree that, to the extent that there is no direct conflict of interest, LAWTREE Advocaten may, both now and in the future, continue to represent the interests of those other clients without your consent being required. We will assume that there is no direct conflict of interest if the representation of another client does not entail a substantial and conflicting link with the matters the firm handles for you, or if representing your interests and the interests of another client relates to matters that are not related to each other. However, we do not consider this consent as an authorisation to disseminate or use confidential information relating to our clients without their consent.
CODE OF ETHICS
LAWTREE Lawyers respect the code of ethics of the Bar Association where they are registered, in particular the principles of independence, partiality and secrecy.
The regulations to which the lawyers are subject can be found on the website of the Flemish Bar Council.
In accordance with the Belgian Act of 18 September 2017 on preventing money laundering and terrorist financing and to limit the use of cash (“the anti-money laundering act”), when working for a new client, LAWTREE Advocaten must identify the principals as well as the directors and ultimate beneficial owners (UBOs) if the client is a legal entity. The client undertakes to spontaneously provide any document on the basis of which LAWTREE Advocaten can identify the client, and authorises LAWTREE Advocaten to save this information. The client undertakes to communicate any change to the requested data as soon as possible. Insofar as LAWTREE Advocaten identifies the client as an increased risk due to the quality, location or content of activities in accordance with the anti-money laundering legislation, the client must provide LAWTREE Advocaten with the additional information or documents it requests to meet its obligations. LAWTREE Advocaten strictly observes its obligation to professional secrecy insofar as it assists clients in their legal defence or is involved in assessing the client’s legal position. In specific situations and only to the extent required under anti-money laundering legislation and the code of ethics, LAWTREE Advocaten will inform the President of the Antwerp or Turnhout bar if it knows, suspects or has reasonable grounds to believe that money, funds, or transactions are being used for money laundering or terrorist financing. It is up to the President of the Bar to decide whether a report should be made to the Financial Information Processing Unit, taking into account the lawyer’s obligation to professional secrecy.
LAWTREE Advocaten, with contact details as stated above, is the controller for the processing of personal data. LAWTREE Advocaten attaches great importance to the careful handling of personal data. LAWTREE Advocaten will strictly comply with applicable privacy and data protection regulations. In the context of services being provided, your personal data will be processed as laid down in these general terms and conditions. The following personal data may be collected in the context of the provided services: first name, surname, address, telephone number(s), professional position(s), sex, date of birth, bank account number and email address(es). LAWTREE Advocaten uses this information to manage your personal account, for client administration, to improve the content of the services, to manage the website and to conduct market research. LAWTREE Advocaten also uses your personal data for direct marketing purposes, such as to inform you about legal changes and to clarify the consequences thereof. LAWTREE Advocaten stores your personal data in its databases for the duration of the agreement. LAWTREE Advocaten reserves the right to provide information to public authorities based on a legal or judicial obligation. You can request at any time to access, update, rectify, erase and/or restrict the processing of your personal data. If you wish to exercise the rights mentioned here, please send us a copy of the front of your identity card, accompanied by your request, to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can object to the processing at any time and you have the right to receive your data in a structured, commonly used and machine-readable form as well as to transfer this data to another controller. If you have questions or complaints about the exercise and/or processing of your personal data, you can obtain further information by sending an email to email@example.com. You also have the right to lodge a complaint with a supervisory authority, which in Belgium is the “Data Protection Authority” (https://www.gegevensbeschermingsautoriteit.be).
Should you have any questions about any point of these general terms and conditions, or about our expense and fee statements, we invite you to direct these questions to the attorney handling your case. We believe it is very important to perform our services on a basis that is clear and satisfactory to you.
All disputes in connection with these general terms and conditions or the use of the website, including those concerning the content or information sent via this website, are subject exclusively to Belgian law, and fall under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Courts of Antwerp.