1.1. Unless otherwise agreed in writing, Soetaert Advocaten bvba will only perform services under these general terms and conditions. Application of any general terms and conditions referred to in documents originating from the client is hereby expressly excluded.
1.2. These general terms and conditions are deemed to be accepted by the client if the client has not notified Soetaert Advocaten bvba to the contrary within a reasonable period after receipt. Acceptance of these general terms and conditions may be presumed if, among others, Soetaert Advocaten bvba has started providing services without any objection of the client.
2.1. The assignments of the client are deemed to be exclusively given to and carried out by Soetaert Advocaten bvba, even if a specific person will be engaged in the performance of the assignment of the client.
2.2. The services will be performed exclusively for the benefit of the client. Third parties shall not derive any rights from the services performed or the results thereof.
3. Fees and costs
3.1. Unless otherwise agreed in writing, the services will be performed on the basis of an hourly fee billed at the standard hourly rates. In addition to the fees, administration costs and specific costs will be invoiced separately. Administration costs are charged as a fix percentage (5%) of the fees. Specific costs are the disbursements we made for the client (such as costs for bailiffs, translators, experts, etc.).
3.2. Fees and costs will be invoiced monthly for the services performed and the costs made in that month. For new clients or assignments, we may request payment of advance fees before we start providing services.
3.3. Unless otherwise agreed in writing, fees and costs are payable within 15 (fifteen) days as from the invoice date. Soetaert Advocaten bvba must be notified in writing of any complaint regarding an invoice within 15 (fifteen) days of the invoice date. If no complaint is made within that period, the client shall be deemed to have accepted that the invoice is correct and that payment is due.
4. Late payment
4.1. If no payment is made within 15 (fifteen) days after the invoice date, Soetaert Advocaten bvba reserves the right to charge a statutory interest at a rate of 0,8% per month, and may suspend its services by simple notice until full payment is received and without being liable for any loss or damage resulting from such suspension.
4.2. If we have to claim payment by registered notice or through court proceedings, the amount due inclusive interest will be increased with an additional compensation calculated as 10% of the amount due, such additional compensation not being less than 250 Eur (two hundred and fifty euro) and not being more than 2.500 Eur (two thousand and five hundred euro).
5.1. Unless otherwise agreed in writing, the obligations of Soetaert Advocaten bvba are obligations of means (“middelenverbintenis” – “obligation de moyens”).
5.2. Any claim can only be directed against Soetaert Advocaten bvba. However, if the law would allow that they could (also) be held liable, these general terms and conditions may be invoked not only by Soetaert Advocaten bvba but also by its shareholders and directors, by any (legal) person employed by Soetaert Advocaten bvba or associated with Soetaert Advocaten bvba and/or all persons engaged in the performance of an assignment of the client.
5.3. If an assignment of the client requires the assistance or support of a (legal) person that is not associated with and/or with whom no formal collaboration exists with Soetaert Advocaten bvba (such as attorneys, auditors, accountants, notaries, bailiffs, experts, advisers or service providers such as postal or courier services or banks or financial institutions, etc), Soetaert Advocaten bvba shall not be liable for the services, actions, omissions, errors or shortcomings of such (legal) person.
5.4. The liability of Soetaert Advocaten bvba as a result of or in connection with the performance of an assignment of the client or otherwise, is limited to the amount paid under the Antwerp Bar Association’s professional liability insurance (which currently provides a maximum amount of Eur 1.250.000), including the deductible (own risk) payable by Soetaert Advocaten bvba as provided by that policy. Information about this professional liability insurance will be provided on request.
5.5. If for whatever reason, no payment would be made under the professional liability insurance policy mentioned in 5.4 above, the liability for or in relation to the performance of any assignment of the client or otherwise is limited to the fees paid by the client to Soetaert Advocaten bvba, exclusive of vat, during the year in which the loss or damage arises, with a maximum of Eur 50.000 (fifty thousand euro).
5.6. Any right to claim for indemnification lapses if such claim is not brought before the competent court within one year after the fact(s) on which the liability is based has(ve) become or reasonably should has(ve) become known to the client.
6.1. By accepting these general terms and conditions, the client agrees that Soetaert Advocaten bvba may refer to the client’s name for marketing purposes or in a context (such as practice descriptions) which may be qualified as lawyer advertising, subject however to our professional secrecy obligations and other rules of conduct and professional rules of the Antwerp Bar Association.
6.2. The relationship between Soetaert Advocaten bvba and its client shall be governed by Belgian law. If and to the extent rules of conduct and professional rules of the Antwerp Bar Association apply, these rules will be an integrating part of these general terms and conditions. Any dispute arising between Soetaert Advocaten bvba and a client shall first be submitted to the President of the Antwerp Bar Association. If the dispute is not resolved, either party may commence proceedings before the competent courts in the judicial district of Antwerp.
6.3. Soetaert Advocaten bvba may include specific conditions in an assignment contract with the client, for example with respect to the fee arrangements which will apply for the assignment. If expressly provided, such specific conditions may deviate from these general terms and conditions.
6.4. These general terms and conditions have been drawn up in Dutch and translated into English and French. In case of dispute as to the terms or interpretation of these general terms and conditions or in case of discrepancy between the Dutch text and the translations, the Dutch text shall be binding and prevail.
General Terms and Conditions Soetaert Advocaten bvba – Version January 1st 2015