General Trade Contitions


    1. GENERAL

    Our lawyers work together under the name ADVOPOLIS.   This includes a group of “advocates” who are all affiliated with the Provincial Bar of Antwerp under their professional title. They provide their services under these present common general trade conditions which form part of the contractual relationship between the client and his lawyer. If necessary ,alterations therefrom must be recorded separately in writing.  


    The client can call on a lawyer for the following services:

    Legal advice, assistance and representation in extrajudicial disputes as well as in legal proceedings, negotiations, mediation and conflict management with regard to the matters handled by ADVOPOLIS.


    The client and lawyer specify the nature and scope of the services or assignments in a separate agreement, if necessary. This determines which advocate within the law office assumes responsibility vis-à-vis the client for handling his file.


    The responsible advocate can and may be replaced by colleagues within the office,in relation to the performance of his assignment without the client's prior approval. However, he will take into account the wishes of the client and the specific legal expertise of his colleagues as much as possible.


    The responsible lawyer can freely decide, without the client's prior consent, to call on other lawyers who are not part of the firm, bailiffs and translators for the implementation of his assignment. Other third service providers such as civil-law notaries, experts or accountants can only intervene in consultation with the client. In all these cases, the client is deemed to have contracted the outside service providers directly and will reimburse these third service providers for their interventions directly or reimburse the lawyer if the latter has advanced thsee expenses.


    The lawyers are to inform the client accurately about the implementation of the assignment and of the progress made in the file. The lawyer gives the client access to the most important correspondence and/or procedural documents. The client undertakes to provide in writing the necessary or useful information, data and documents during the entire duration of the assignment, both on his own initiative and at the request of the lawyer. The client guarantees the correctness, completeness and reliability of that information and its content. The client is obliged to substantiate his full identity or that of his company/business enterprise and its ultimate beneficiaries –The client will immediately inform the lawyer of all notifications, services, communications, procedural acts (not exhaustive) that may be related to a term/deadline , evidence , a procedural regulation or, possible changes in addresses or modifications in contacts.


    The client will receive all communications/ messages destined to his attention from the lawyer at the e-mail address or at his/her postal address. The client will always spontaneously notify the lawyer of any changes of his addresses, and is solely responsible for this. The lawyers are not liable for any burden or damage caused as a result whether or not the client received and used the electronic communications. The communications and the relationship between lawyer and client are confidential and privileged in nature. The client undertakes to maintain this confidential and privileged nature and shall not disclose the communications received from his/ lawyer to third parties/ outsiders.


    The lawyers and their employees are bound by professional secrecy so that the information entrusted by the client to them is confidential and is not divulged publicly , unless this is necessary for his interests or if it is imposed by the public authorities . With regard to the personal data which the client entrusts to the lawyer, a specific regulation known as (GDPR General Data Protection Regulation) is applicable.


    The lawyer will collect money amounts intended for the client or for third parties on a separate third-party account ( escrow account) and settles these amounts with him. He notifies the client of the receipt of the these amounts and also informs him of their destination. The lawyer is entitled to deduct sums from the amounts intended for the client to cover for outstanding advances or fee statements, and will inform the client about this deduction. The entitlement to set off does not affect the client's right to raise an objection and discussion . Amounts of money that cannot be allocated immediately will, if necessary, be placed in a separate sub-escrow account by the lawyer.


    The lawyer will make every effort to achieve the result intended by the client, but the lawyer cannot guarantee this result. His assignment is to be qualified as a “best efforts obligation” . In the event of an attributable shortcoming or professional errors, the client can hold the lawyer responsible, but the latter cannot be held liable for the selection of third parties engaged, nor for the errors or omissions committed by that third party service provider, even if this third parties service provider had been paid by him. The lawyers are insured for their professional liability up to the limit specified in the policy. The insurance certificate is available at simple request. Any claim on that insurance must be made within one year after obtaining knowledge of the facts on which the claim is based or after this should have been known. If special or higher insurance is desirable for the handling of the file, subject to payment of an additional or increased premium, the lawyer will inform the client accordingly. If the client does not want additional insurance, he accepts that the compensation for the damage is limited to the maximum amount provided by the initial insurance. If the client deems additional insurance necessary, he can also take out an additional insurance policy on his own initiative.


    The client can always terminate or interrupt the lawyer's assignment by a written notice. In that case, the lawyer will submit a final statement of his fees to the client up to the finalization of the assignment. The lawyer cannot request compensation for termination of the assignment, except in the case of premature termination of a time based subscription. The lawyer will then transfer the file documents to the client or to the designated successor. The lawyer can also terminate the assignment at any time by notifying the client in writing.


    The lawyers request monetary compensation consisting on the one hand of compensation for the performance of their actual services themselves, and on the other hand reimbursement for general costs and specific expenses. The law firm uses seven possible calculation methods for charging the fee, namely (1) a fixed fee for services on an hourly basis, plus costs and expenses; (2) a flat-rate fee for services per hour including costs; (3) compensation for services according to the value of the case , i.e. a percentage on the monetary value of the case ; (4) a fee for services according to the value of the case , with a minimum fixed fee for services per hour; (5) a fixed agreed lump sum; (6) a subscription on a time basis ; (7) a success fee, ie an agreed percentage or overall increase in the hourly rate or percentage rate in the event of a favourable outcome of the case. The lawyer's fee is charged in statements and invoices. Unless otherwise agreed in writing, the hourly rate for the payment of services, plus the administration costs (formula 1), is automatically applied. All fees for services and general costs are subject to the VAT dues


    The lawyer will keep an accurate track record of the hours invested and the nature of the performances per file by registering those performances on timesheets or overviews. These hourly performance statements are conclusive and binding on the client. All hours that are registered as performed by the lawyer for a particular file or case are chargeable. On the basis of these overviews, the lawyer will make up his fee note with regard to the client. Unless otherwise agreed, the fee for the chargeable hours according to the timesheet (general costs including administration and specific expenses not included) will be charged at a rate of € 200 per hour. For journeys and waiting times, the fee is € 75 per hour. These hourly rates can be updated annually by the lawyers. Settlement of the hourly rate can be agreed upwards on account of the financial solidity of the client, the urgency or the importance of the case, on account of the degree of difficulty, or on the basis of a favourable result or the extensive experience of the handling lawyer. His special knowledge or specialization in the matter can also result in an increment of the hourly rate. These special terms will then be recorded in writing by the parties. All amounts of the hourly rate are to be added by the VAT dues in the amount of 21%.


    For matters that can be valued in money, the client and lawyer may prefer to determine the fee based on a percentage of the value of the dispute or the claim. That value is equal to the total gross amount of the principal claim plus the interest on each separate claim. Both main claim, counterclaim, intervention in the file, irrespective of whether the client is the claimant, defendant or an intervening party. The value of the file is determined cumulatively on the various claims. The fee is determined per instance of the legal proceedings and per tranche of the value of the case according to the basic scale stated below:

    • Value from 0 to 10,000 euros: 15% fee
    • Value from 10,000 to 100,000 euros: 10% fee
    • Value of 100,000 to 500,000 euros: 8% fee
    • Value of 500,000 to 1 million euros: fee 6%
    • Value more than 1 million euros: 4% fee.

    If, after a reminder or summary negotiation, a fully favourable result has already been obtained prior to commencement of legal proceedings, the basic rate will be reduced to 50%. If the lawyer has handled the file in both the first instance and on appeal, the fee for the appeal will be an additional 50% of the basic scale. In the event of termination of the assignment during the proceedings, the fee will be determined on the basis of the performances already delivered. If the parties wish to deviate from these arrangements, they must record special arrangement in writing in advance.


    In addition to and separately from the payment for the actual services or fees, the client also pays the general costs and the expenses/disbursements of the lawyer and the law office which are incurred on his behalf:

    1. general administration costs: this includes fixed costs without specific reference to a particular file, but necessary for the general proper functioning of the ADVOPOLIS law office, the practice of the profession and its management such as professional premises, charges associated with the real estate, IT connections, utilities, heating, personnel wages, insurance, computers and documentation, conferences and seminars as well as seminar days, professional contributions, accounting costs, representation and insurance of professional liability as well as training – this enumeration being not exhaustive;
    2. variable administrative costs: these are administrative and secretarial costs demonstrably related to an individual file or a specific case , such as telephone, postage, printed matter, stationery and writing paper , photocopies and e-mails;
    3. variable administrative costs: these are administrative and secretarial costs demonstrably related to an individual file or a specific case , such as telephone, postage, printed matter, stationery and writing paper , photocopies and e-mails;

    The general and variable administration costs are charged at a fixed rate per file unit on top of the remuneration for services or fees. File units are understood to mean every treatment by the lawyer, his secretariat or employees, which are registered in writing or electronically in a specific file. The number of file units is determined by counting the number of recorded pages for letters, pleadings and submissions, notes, transfers, texts in the broad sense, and this at a fixed rate of € 12 per file unit, excluding VAT. The specific expenses and legal costs will be listed separately in the statements to the client and accounted for in relation to the amount and its source. Specific expenses to third parties and legal costs will be charged at cost to the client.


    The lawyer justifies and charges all fees and costs on the basis of a global bill. VAT is charged separately at the statutory rate of 21%. During the processing of a file ,and if necessary, prior to the start of the file or periodically, the lawyer can claim a down payment or charge a partial bill . All fee notes and invoices are payable within 15 days of the date of issue , unless otherwise agreed. Complaints or protests on in relation to bills must be made within the same time period and are only valid if made by registered letter. In the event of non-payment by the due date, after a demand for payment, and in the absence of a well-founded protest, a default interest equal to the legal interest rate will automatically and without further notice be charged and payable on the balance of the outstanding amount . In the event of judicial recovery, compensation is payable by the client up to 10% of the sums still owed. All fee notes and invoices are payable at the Antwerp offices , and the Courts of Antwerp have jurisdiction to the exclusion of all other courts. Fee notes / bills as well as costs and disbursements can and may be deducted by the lawyer from the funds he has collected on behalf of the client, provided that the latter be informed of the imputation. In the event of non-payment, the lawyer may suspend his services provided he informs the client thereof. The fees and costs of third parties, such as bailiffs, experts, notaries, are normally invoiced directly to the client by those third parties, and the client is also obliged to pay within the same period of 15 days.


    When entrusting an assignment, the client must verify, if necessary together with the lawyer, whether he will be able to rely on legal aid insurance. He must report his claim or file to the legal aid insurer in advance and in proper time. If the client can rely on legal aid for the handling of his claim, this does not prevent the lawyer from charging the client for the fees and expenses incurred in the handling of the claim , and the client will in principle pursue his claim against his legal aid insurer, unless the lawyer has expressly agreed to a different arrangement. In any event, the client remains obliged to pay the totality of the fees and expenses, including those parts that possibly would not be borne or covered by the legal aid insurer.


    If the client believes he qualifies for the benefit of second line legal assistance , it is up to the client to take the necessary steps thereto himself. However, ADVOPOLIS does not work under this scheme , nor under the so-called “Pro Bono” scheme.


    The lawyers are to inform the client about the possibilities to recur to mediation / reconciliation and about the possibility of reaching an amicable settlement to terminate legal disputes . If an amicable solution is possible, the lawyer will, if necessary, inform the client about this possibility and try to promote this.


    Conducting legal proceedings can lead to a court order for the unsuccessful party to pay legal fees ( indemnity for legal proceedings). These indemnities for legal proceedings are part of the court costs and are based on tariffs. The lawyer will make available an up-to-date schedule in relation to the indemnities for legal proceedings on request. The legal indemnities recovered by the lawyer for the client can be applied as payment on the amounts owed by the client to the law office.


    Advocaten moeten op grond van de Europese Anti-Witwasrichtlijn en de Belgische wetgeving ter zake klantenonderzoek verrichten, eveneens waakzaam zijn en melding doen in geval van transacties of vermoedens van witwas of financiering van terrorisme.Advocaten zijn verplicht sommige gegevens te bewaren en moeten op eerste verzoek medewerking verlenen.Ook verplicht de antiwitwaswetgeving de advocaat in bepaalde gevallen melding te maken aan de stafhouder van de Balie Provincie Antwerpen.Die zal vervolgens doorgeleiden aan de Cel voor Financiële Informatieverwerking – indien daartoe wettelijke meldingsplicht bestaat.Het is de advocaat en zijn stafhouder verboden om de cliënt in te lichten als zij informatie hebben medegedeeld of als zulks onderzoek aan de gang is.De bijkomende kosten en honoraria die ontstaan voor de advocaat ingevolge het nakomen van die wettelijke verplichtingen, kunnen in rekening worden gebracht aan de cliënt.


    After finalization of the case , the lawyer will keep and archive the file for a period of five years. Original documents are to be returned to client at his request at the end of the assignment and must then be archived or kept by the client himself. At the end of the archiving period, the stored files will be destroyed without further notice or without the possibility of claims in relation thereto.


    The client should take into account that the order to pay a money amount by a court decision can also result in the obligation for the payment of registration dues and court fees. Normally, these dues are collected directly from the losing party by the tax authorities after the case has ended. These dues cannot be recovered from the lawyer, nor can they be deducted from his bill of costs and fees.


    For complaints in relation to the services provided by the lawyer and their compensation, the client should contact the lawyer affiliated with ADVOPOLIS at his office address as stated on the letterhead. Complaints about breaches of the professional rules can also be submitted to the incumbent Chairperson of the Provincial Bar of Antwerp – Bolivarplaats 20/15 in 2000 Antwerp. Disputes about fees can also be resolved amicably by moving for a so-called valuation opinion to the above-mentioned chairperson. Such an opinion is not binding and can also be requested by the court in the framework of a fee dispute in a court of law .


    The lawyer is subject to the rules and regulations of the Flemish Bar Council and those of the Provincial Bar of Antwerp. The professional rules of the members of ADVOPOLIS and the code of conduct that apply to them can be consulted or requested at the relevant websites and


    Belgian law is applicable in relation to the legal relationship between the client and the lawyer. The Dutch text of these general trade conditions always takes precedence in any dispute over any another language. If the client and his lawyer are unable to resolve their dispute amicably, they will preferably request that the case be brought before an amicable settlement board of the Provincial Bar of Antwerp before any formal legal proceedings (unless in the case of unpaid invoices for fees and costs). In the event a summons has to be taken out, the courts of Antwerp will have jurisdiction. However, the lawyer may prefer to bring the case before the court of the place of domicile or the registered office of the client.



*Group of Attorneys
^BV Marc A. Huybrechts KBO BE0808.742.547
John Stoop KBO BE0554.972.731
oBV Machiels Advocaten KBO BE0462.519.853
Dirk Dielen KBO BE0851.673.658


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