Article 1 – General information
De Langhe Advocaten is a private limited liability company [besloten vennootschap met beperkte aansprakelijkheid] with registered office at B-9770 Kruishoutem, Olsensesteenweg 24 and is registered with the Crossroad Bank for Enterprises with enterprise number 0474.115.610 and VAT number BE 0474.115.610. The firm has its correspondence address at B-8790 Waregem, Henri Lebbestraat 109 or B-9052 Zwijnaarde, Rijvisschestraat 124 (3Square Village).
All lawyers at De Langhe Advocaten are attorneys in Belgium and are members of the Order of Lawyers in Kortrijk or the Order of Lawyers in Ghent. The details of the lawyers working at De Langhe Advocaten can be consulted via the website www.de-langhe.be or via the stationery of De Langhe Advocaten.
Article 2 – Applicability
2.1 By calling on De Langhe Advocaten, the client accepts the application of these general terms and conditions to all services provided by De Langhe Advocaten and consequently these general terms and conditions form the entire contractual framework of the relationship between De Langhe Advocaten and the client, even if the client only has contact with one or more lawyers working at De Langhe Advocaten.
These general terms and conditions are, as a framework agreement, not only applicable to the initial assignment of the client to De Langhe Advocaten, but also to any subsequent assignments unless, for a particular assignment, other agreements are made expressly and in writing.
2.2 Application of any general terms and conditions of the client is excluded, unless expressly agreed otherwise in writing. Agreements that depart from one or more clauses of the general terms and conditions of De Langhe Advocaten replace only the clause or clauses from which they depart. The remaining clauses continue to apply in full.
Article 3 – Contract
3.1 The lawyers associated with De Langhe Advocaten perform their services on behalf and for the account of De Langhe Advocaten.
De Langhe Advocaten is the sole contracting party of the client for every service provided by its partners, associates, trainees and employees.
3.2 Only the client can derive rights from the services provided by De Langhe Advocaten. Unless expressly stipulated otherwise in writing, the client shall not disclose or disseminate the object and the product of the services, or use them for the benefit of third parties.
3.3 Within the framework of the bar traineeship, a lawyer associated with De Langhe Advocaten can handle a case under his or her own direction. In such a case, no contractual relationship with De Langhe Advocaten comes into existence, and solely the lawyer in question becomes the contracting party of his or her client.
3.4 The contract between De Langhe Advocaten and the client is concluded at the moment that De Langhe Advocaten begins to provide its services.
Article 4 – Object of the provision of services
4.1 The services provided by De Langhe Advocaten can relate (amongst other things) to advising, assistance in mediation, negotiations or legal proceedings or acting as a mandatory.
The parties shall agree on the precise object of the services to be provided by De Langhe Advocaten at the start of the activities and, as necessary, adapt/expand them in the course of further execution. The client agrees that the definition of the precise object of the services and the possible adaptation/extension thereof can take place without any prescribed form and can appear e.g. from correspondence, from the acceptance (even tacit) of services or the payment of invoices.
4.2 Unless it appears without any possible doubt from the nature of the assignment in question that it involves a result obligation or that this was agreed expressly and in writing, the obligations of De Langhe Advocaten are not result obligations but rather best-efforts obligations.
Article 5 – Internal division of tasks
5.1 Unless the client expressly objects to this, De Langhe Advocaten can, according to its own judgement, divide or redivide cases or specific aspects thereof internally amongst its lawyers, or call upon the assistance of external correspondents (lawyers or experts).
Such internal division will as much as possible take place according to the (sub-)specialization of the lawyers, the optimal provision of services and/or the favorable defense of the client’s interests. De Langhe Advocaten works in a team context in order to increase the quality of its services and to control the cost price of the services it provides. The dominus litis always maintains control over the case.
5.2 The client is informed of the details of the lawyer handling his/her case.
Article 6 – Information
6.1 The client shall provide to De Langhe Advocaten, both at the start of the contract and during the term thereof, immediately and even without being asked, all of the information and documents that are or become relevant or necessary in order to make it possible for its services to be optimally performed.
If the client does not adequately lend, or not as agreed, the cooperation required for the proper execution of the assignment, De Langhe Advocaten can suspend or entirely discontinue its activities in accordance with article 12. De Langhe Advocaten is not liable for the negative consequences of such suspension or discontinuation.
De Langhe Advocaten is not liable for any harm that might derive from incorrect or incomplete information provided by the client. The client indemnifies and compensates De Langhe Advocaten for any harm deriving from incorrect or incomplete information of the client.
6.2 De Langhe Advocaten shall inform the client with due care on the performance of its services and on how the case is being handled.
6.3 De Langhe Advocaten reminds the client that legal proceedings give rise to risks and costs (in addition to its own attorney’s fees).
In particular, De Langhe Advocaten reminds the client of the regulation with regard to court costs, as contained in articles 1017 and 1022 of the Judicial Code. On the basis of these statutory provisions (i) (in civil legal cases) in principle the losing party must pay the costs, (ii) these costs include amongst other things a procedural indemnity, i.e. “a lump-sum allowance for the costs and fees of the lawyer of the prevailing party”, and (iii) the amount of this procedural indemnity is determined according to fixed statutory (periodically adjusted) rate scales.
6.4 If De Langhe Advocaten defends the interests of several clients in a case, De Langhe Advocaten may proceed on the assumption that these clients represent one another mutually, such as but not limited with regard to the exchange of information, the giving of approval to draft texts and the giving of approval for certain actions. Merely as an example, this applies e.g. when the clients concerned are spouses, cohabitants, family members, business partners, parties to the same contract, members of the same (company) body, affiliated companies, or a company and is beneficial owner(s).
Article 7 – Call on third parties
7.1 If De Langhe Advocaten deems it necessary for the execution of the services that a call be made on the services of a bailiff or translator, the client leaves the choice thereof to De Langhe Advocaten. The same applies for the performance of simple tasks (filing of a procedural document, appearing at a (an introductory) court session, etc.) by a local lawyer.
7.2 If De Langhe Advocaten deems it necessary for the execution of the services that a call be made on the services of other third parties, such as (foreign) lawyers, notaries public, accountants, auditors or experts, they will be chosen in consultation with the client.
7.3 The fees and costs/compensations of these third parties are borne entirely by the client and will generally have to be paid directly by the client to these third parties. If they should be advanced by De Langhe Advocaten, they will be re-billed to the client. Barring express written instruction to the contrary from the client, the client accepts the other terms and conditions, including possible liability restrictions, of these third parties and the client also mandates De Langhe Advocaten to accept them on the client’s behalf.
7.4 Along with bringing in third parties as mentioned above, De Langhe Advocaten also always has the right on its own account to call on external correspondents (lawyers or experts) purely for giving advice to De Langhe Advocaten. In so doing, De Langhe Advocaten preserves the confidentiality of the communicated data of the client’s case and also imposes such an obligation on the outside advisor if they are not themselves already obliged to do so by an official code of professional conduct.
Article 8 – Remuneration
8.1 In principle, De Langhe Advocaten will charge its services, office expenses, rebilled costs and advanced costs to the client monthly by means of an invoice.
8.2 Except for express and written agreement to the contrary, the fees are charged on the basis of the hours worked, according to the hourly rates that depend on the status of the lawyer who performed the invoiced work. These hourly rates are agreed with the client upon entering into the contractual relationship. They apply per calendar year and can be adapted annually by De Langhe Advocaten. The client can always request the current rates in his/her case and can find the current status of each lawyer associated with De Langhe Advocaten – which can evolve over time according to e.g. increased experience – on the website of De Langhe Advocaten (up-to-date information at the time of consulting the website).
De Langhe Advocaten charges an additional 5% on the fees in order to cover its office and administration costs. This does not include any court costs advanced by De Langhe Advocaten (court fees, costs of documents issued by the court’s registry, costs of bailiffs, etc.) or other external costs, which are re-billed at cost to the client.
8.3 In consultation with the client, other rates or methods of calculation can be applied, for example according to the (financial) importance of the case, the result obtained, the urgency of the case, etc.
8.4 De Langhe Advocaten may, at the start or during the execution of the assignment, always charge one or more retainers, which are included on the following detailed statement of costs and fees.
8.5 Any comments or challenge by the client concerning the invoicing of a retainer or a statement of costs and fees must be communicated to De Langhe Advocaten by registered letter within a period of 15 days after receipt of the invoice/request for payment. In the absence of such timely and formal communication, the charged amount is irrevocably owed.
8.6 The invoices of De Langhe Advocaten are payable at the latest within 15 days after sending. In the event of complete or partial non-payment of a debt of the client on the due date, the unpaid sum shall be increased, ipso jure, without preliminary formal notice of default, by late-payment interest at the Belgian legal interest rate in commercial matters, with a minimum interest rate of 10% per year, up to the date of full payment, and by a lump-sum fee for administration costs equal to 10% of the unpaid sum, with a minimum of 125.00 EUR.
8.7 If De Langhe Advocaten in a case defends the interests of several clients, they are jointly and severally obliged to pay the fees of De Langhe Advocaten, regardless of who they were invoiced to.
Article 9 – Third-party monies
9.1 De Langhe Advocaten pays on to the client all amounts that it receives for the client’s account as soon as possible.
If De Langhe Advocaten cannot immediately pass on an amount, it notifies the client of the receipt of the amount and the reason why the amount cannot be passed on.
9.2 De Langhe Advocaten may deduct from the amounts that it receives for the client’s account sums in order to cover the amounts that are owed to it by the client (even if they are not yet exigible). It shall inform the client thereof in writing.
9.3 De Langhe Advocaten immediately pays on all amounts that it receives from the client for the account of third parties to those third parties.
Article 10 – Insurance and liability
10.1 The lawyers associated with De Langhe Advocaten are individually insured for their professional liability by means of the following insurance policy taken out by the Order of Flemish Bar Associations from NV Amlin Europe (2017 situation):
Insured risk Professional Civil Liability: group “professional civil liability” insurance for the purpose of insuring the lawyers for the financial consequences of the (extra-) contractual civil liability due to the harm or disadvantage caused to third parties, including their clients, in the exercise of their profession.
– the lawyers who are members of the bar or on the list of the trainees of the Orders of Lawyers of the Flemish Bar Associations or who are included on an EU list;
– the lawyers associations or companies where the insured lawyers exercise their professional activity; and
– the employees of the insureds.
Insurer: AMLIN Europe NV (registered office at NL-1181LD Amstelveen, Netherlands, Van Heuven Goedhartlaan 939 – Commercial Register no. 33055009; branch office in Belgium at B-1030 Brussels, Koning Albert II-laan 37 – Crossroads Bank for Enterprises 0416.056.358), via Vanbreda Risk & Benefits, with policy number LXX034899.
Insured amounts: the lawyer first rank professional liability insurance from the insurer offers a guarantee of 1,250,000.00 EUR per claim.
– all activities that are characteristic of the lawyer’s profession;
– activities as arbitrator in legal disputes;
– assessment of fees at the request of courts;
– lawyer-mediator and lawyer-debt mediator;
– lawyer-building manager in accordance with the regulations of the OVB [Order of Flemish Bar Associations];
– ad hoc mandatory for legal entities in criminal matters;
– judicial mandates: provisional receiver, guardian or co-guardian, ad hoc guardian, trustee of vacant successions, debt mediator for collective debt settlement.
Judicial mandates by order of the Commercial Court and the activity of voluntary liquidator are not insured.
Geographical coverage – the guarantee of the aforementioned insurance policy applies to the consequences of acts committed throughout the world, for activities that the insureds carry out from their office established in Belgium and subject to the clarifications made by article 8 of the policy. Not insured, however, are claims that are filed against the insureds in the US or Canada, or under the legislation or jurisdiction of the US or Canada.
The professional liability of De Langhe Advocaten and of the lawyers who work for De Langhe Advocaten as independent collaborators is limited to the extent to which the aforementioned insurance coverage is actually granted, as explained in greater detail below.
10.2 The client deems the ordinary insurance of De Langhe Advocaten to be sufficient and accepts that the compensation of the harm that he/she suffers as a result of a fault (even if repeated, gross or extra-contractual) on the part of De Langhe Advocaten and/or its lawyers and/or employees is limited to the extent to which the aforementioned insurance covers the claim, with the aforementioned maximum amount of 1,250,000.00 EUR per claim. This limitation does not apply in the event of an intentional fault on the part of De Langhe Advocaten and/or its lawyers and/or employees.
If the professional liability insurer does not cover the claim, without this being the result of an intentional fault on the part of De Langhe Advocaten or its lawyers or employees, the liability of De Langhe Advocaten, its lawyers and employees, both contractual and extra-contractual, is limited in principal amount, costs and interests up to the amount excluding VAT that was charged in the case in which the liability is found, and in the absence of such case up to a maximum of 10,000.00 EUR per claim.
10.3 Under absolutely no circumstances can De Langhe Advocaten or its lawyers be held liable for indirect or consequential damage (such as but not limited to loss of use, loss of sales or profit, loss of income, staff and administration costs, liability vis-à-vis third parties, etc.) suffered by the client or by third parties.
10.4 Without prejudice to the foregoing, De Langhe Advocaten and its lawyers are not liable for any shortcomings on the part of third parties who are used in the execution of their services, if their assignment was granted on behalf of and for the account of the client, regardless of whether these third parties charge their fees and costs to De Langhe Advocaten or directly to the client.
10.5 The aforementioned limitations of liability do not apply in the event of an intentional fault on the part of De Langhe Advocaten and/or its lawyers. In the event that the client is a “consumer” within the meaning of the Economic Law Code, the aforementioned limitations of liability do not apply for intentional faults and gross negligence on the part of De Langhe Advocaten, its lawyers, employees or mandatories or, except in the case of force majeure, for the non-fulfilment of an obligation that constitutes one of the main performances of the contract.
10.6 Notwithstanding the fact that De Langhe Advocaten makes reasonable efforts to protect its systems, files, web pages, messages, e-mails and attachments from viruses or other defects that can affect computers or an IT system, it remains the client’s responsibility to ensure that appropriate measures are taken in order to protect the client’s computers and IT system against such viruses or defects. De Langhe Advocaten rejects all liability for any loss or damage that is the result of the receipt or use of electronic communication coming from De Langhe Advocaten.
10.7 The client acknowledges that the aforementioned liability limitations are essential for De Langhe Advocaten to accept the assignment and for the determination of the fee rates.
Additional insurance coverage can be agreed in mutual consultation between De Langhe Advocaten and the client. An express written agreement is required for this, and such additional coverage is limited to the cases named therein.
Article 11 – Intellectual property rights
All moral and proprietary rights relating to the opinions, memoranda, reports, contracts, trial documents, templates, letters, conditions, drafts, (company) documents and all other intellectual activities in whatever form produced by De Langhe Advocaten belong exclusively to De Langhe Advocaten.
The client is not allowed, whether by itself or with the assistance of third parties, without the advance express written consent of De Langhe Advocaten, to reproduce, make public, disseminate, exploit or in any way make available to third parties the aforementioned works created by De Langhe Advocaten. The client is only allowed to use the aforementioned works created by De Langhe Advocaten for himself/herself, in a normal manner and within the framework of the assignment given to De Langhe Advocaten.
Article 12 – Termination
12.1 Both the client and De Langhe Advocaten have the right to terminate the contract at all times, with immediate effect and without any obligation to give any justification, by means of a written notification, without any liability vis-à-vis one another for the negative consequences of such termination.
12.2 In the event that the client remains in default with regard to fulfilling his/her obligations from the contract such as but not limited to furnishing sufficient information, payment of invoices, etc., De Langhe Advocaten is also authorized to provisionally suspend its activities, also by means of a written notification and without any liability vis-à-vis the client for the negative consequences of such suspension.
12.3 The client is obliged to pay for all activities performed and all costs incurred up to the date of termination of the agreement. De Langhe Advocaten draws up a final invoice and sends it to the client or to the succeeding lawyer. De Langhe Advocaten shall return the documents of the client’s case to the latter at his/her first request, with the exception of any confidential correspondence and/or documents.
12.4 De Langhe Advocaten is not liable for harm that might derive from the termination of its contract with the client.
Article 13 – Archiving
13.1 If the client has not requested to return to him or her the case file or certain documents (whether or not originals), De Langhe Advocaten shall archive them after the conclusion of each assignment and then store them for a period of 5 years. After the aforementioned period of 5 years, De Langhe Advocaten may definitively destroy the case file without further notification.
13.2 Unless there is express and written agreement to the contrary, De Langhe Advocaten is never obliged to safeguard the case file or certain documents (whether or not originals) after the aforementioned period of 5 years. The client shall thus at his/her own initiative ask De Langhe Advocaten in a timely manner to return the documents that it wishes to safeguard for a longer period.
Article 14 – Obligation to prove identity
14.1 De Langhe Advocaten complies with the laws against money-laundering and terrorist financing. More details concerning this legislation can be obtained on request.
14.2 Within the framework of the aforementioned legislation, De Langhe Advocaten must fulfil a number of administrative obligations and report certain transactions.
On the basis of a statutorily-established obligation to prove identity, the lawyer is obliged to verify the client’s identity. The client shall at first request provide all requested identity information on the basis of official documents, and where appropriate also the details of his/her mandatories.
14.3 A report of certain suspicious transactions must be made to the President of the Bar Association, who then passes on the information to the Financial Intelligence Processing Unit. In principle, this reporting duty does not apply within the framework of a (potential) legal dispute or the determination of a legal position.
The lawyer and the President of the Bar Association are prohibited from informing the client that information was communicated or that an investigation has been initiated.
Article 15 – Modification
De Langhe Advocaten reserves the right to modify these terms and conditions at any time. The modified terms and conditions apply immediately for each new assignment or additional assignment entrusted to De Langhe Advocaten. With regard to the performance of ongoing assignments, De Langhe Advocaten gives notice of the modified text to the client, and the latter must protest in writing within 15 days after this notification if he/she does not accept it. In the absence of such protest, the modified conditions shall also apply after this period for ongoing assignments.
Article 16 – Invalidity or contradiction
16.1 If one or more clauses of these general terms and conditions prove to be void, invalid or unenforceable, this shall not affect the validity and the enforceability of the other clauses of these general terms and conditions.
16.2 The client and De Langhe Advocaten undertake to negotiate in good faith in order to immediately replace such a void, invalid or unenforceable clause by one that comes as close as possible to the meaning of the original clause.
16.3 In case of a discrepancy between the language versions, the Dutch version shall prevail.
Article 17 – Applicable law and competent jurisdiction
17.1 All contracts between De Langhe Advocaten and the client are governed exclusively by Belgian law.
17.2 All lawyers at De Langhe Advocaten are subject to (i) the regulations of the Order of Flemish Bar Associations and the not yet repealed regulations of the earlier National Order of Lawyers, which can be consulted on www.advocaat.be and (ii) to the regulations of the Order of Lawyers in Kortrijk, which can be consulted on www.baliekortrijk.be.
17.3 With regard to the collection of fees, a mediation procedure is provided for in the internal regulations of the Order of Lawyers in Kortrijk of 28 May 2008 on the collection and assessment of fees. This mediation procedure is not obligatory, but De Langhe Advocaten or the client can voluntarily avail himself/herself of it. The client can obtain more information on the characteristics and the conditions of application of these regulations on the website www.baliekortrijk.be > balie > erelonen > reglement.
Prior to any proceeding, the parties shall preferably, yet without being obliged to do so, submit the matter for amicable resolution to the competent court or to a body competent for this purpose in the Order of Lawyers.
17.4 For disciplinary cases, the President of the Kortrijk Bar Association (Stafhouder balie Kortrijk, Gerechtsgebouw, Burgemeester Nolfstraat 10A, 8500 Kortrijk) or the President of the Ghent Bar Association (Stafhouder balie Gent, Gerechtsgebouw, Opgeëistenlaan 401/P, 9000 Gent) is competent, depending on the bar association where the lawyer involved has his or her offices.
17.5 In the event that a dispute between De Langhe Advocaten and the client is brought before a court, this dispute shall be brought, to the exclusion of any other forum, before the courts of the district of West Flanders, department of Kortrijk.