CONDITIONS
 
LEGAL INFORMATION

The provisions of the General Terms and Conditions apply to each service which Mercurius advocatenkantoor provides to its clients. The Dutch version of these General Terms and Conditions prevails over the versions in another language.  In case of differences between those versions, the Dutch version will apply.

 

The registered office is located at Groenenborgerlaan 84, Box 6, 2610 Wilrijk.

T +32 3 216 71 60

F +32 3 216 41 62 

I www.mercurius-law.be

E info@mercurius-law.be

 

Mercurius advocatenkantoor BVBA (Private Limited Liability Company Mercurius advocatenkantoor) is registered in the Legal Persons Register of Antwerp under CBE No. 0598.740.319, and with VAT No. BE 0598.740.319.

 

The law firm Mercurius advocatenkantoor is a group of lawyers whose object is the practice of law. 

The lawyers of Mercurius advocatenkantoor are Belgian lawyers. Unless indicated otherwise, all lawyers are registered at the Bar Association of Antwerp.

The lawyers linked to Mercurius advocatenkantoor perform their services on behalf of and for the account of Mercurius advocatenkantoor.

Mercurius advocatenkantoor is the client’s sole contracting party for each service performed by it.

APPLICABILITY OF THE GENERAL TERMS AND CONDITIONS

These General Terms and Conditions apply to each service of Mercurius advocatenkantoor provided to the client, and consequently constitute the entire contractual framework between Mercurius advocatenkantoor and the client.

These General Terms and Conditions apply to all lawyers who provide services to the client on behalf of and for the account of Mercurius advocatenkantoor.

 

Except where different arrangements are made for a specific task, these General Terms and Conditions, as a framework agreement, apply not just to the client’s initial instruction of Mercurius advocatenkantoor, but to all subsequent tasks.

 

Arrangements which deviate from one or more clauses of these General Terms and Conditions only replace the clause or clauses from which they deviate. The other clauses remain fully applicable.

 

These General Terms and Conditions exclude the application of the general terms and conditions of the client (if a legal person).

 

Services

The services of Mercurius advocatenkantoor may, amongst others, relate to consultations, provision of advice, meetings, negotiations, representation in court or arbitration, assistance with proceedings, acting as agent or intermediary, etc.

The parties shall specify the object of the services of Mercurius advocatenkantoor at the commencement of the activities, and, if necessary, the object of the services can be modified or expanded during performance of them. Where applicable, the modification or expansion of the services may take place in any form, and may be apparent from the giving of instructions, the acceptance of work, or the payment of invoices.

The client accepts that Mercurius advocatenkantoor has the right to call upon third parties, such as other lawyers, judicial officers, translators, public notaries, experts, accountants, etc., during the performance of its activities on behalf of and for the account of the client. The client shall leave the choice of these third parties up to Mercurius advocatenkantoor.

All advice given by Mercurius advocatenkantoor is solely for the use of the client, and is only provided in the context of the matter for which it is given.

Advice of Mercurius advocatenkantoor may not be used by third parties or by the client in a different matter. Nor may third parties invoke it. The client undertakes not to divulge any advice of Mercurius advocatenkantoor to third parties without the advance written consent of Mercurius advocatenkantoor, except to other professional advisors of the client if necessary for the matter in question and this cannot create any obligation or liability on the part of Mercurius advocatenkantoor.

The contractual obligations of Mercurius advocatenkantoor are only applicable to the client, and do not extend to third parties, unless Mercurius advocatenkantoor explicitly accepts this responsibility in writing.

The client shall indemnify Mercurius advocatenkantoor and persons linked to it against all claims of third parties which are in any way linked to or arise from the client’s instruction and/or the activities performed for the client.

This duty to indemnify shall also include the costs of any defence needed.

If, for any reason, (e.g. legal, regulatory, ethical or for any other valid reason), Mercurius advocatenkantoor is obliged to verify the client, or to perform investigation (due diligence), the client must provide all deeds, documents and information requested by Mercurius advocatenkantoor, failing this, Mercurius advocatenkantoor shall have the right to immediately invoice the client for its services and all work already performed and costs deferred, reserving additional costs and remunerations.

The client is forbidden to record conversations with Mercurius advocatenkantoor, and the lawyers and persons providing services on behalf of Mercurius advocatenkantoor on any device. Any breach of this shall give Mercurius advocatenkantoor and those persons the right to submit a complaint to the competent instances.

Mercurius advocatenkantoor may terminate its services to the client at any time in compliance with the code of practice of the legal profession, and if circumstances arise which render those services difficult or no longer possible.

The client may terminate the services of Mercurius advocatenkantoor at any time by written notification. This termination shall not affect the client’s obligation to pay for all services and reimburse all costs owed up to the termination of the services, and, where applicable, all work performed and costs relating to the transfer of the dossiers being handled.

 

 

Fees

Mercurius advocatenkantoor is completely transparent about fees and costs. The fee charged by Mercurius advocatenkantoor includes the work of the lawyers who provide services on behalf of Mercurius advocatenkantoor, such as consultations, advice, meetings, correspondence, negotiations, telephone consultations, research, preparation of documents, representation in court, time spent travelling, etc.

Unless agreed otherwise in writing, the work performed by lawyers of Mercurius advocatenkantoor is invoiced at an hourly rate specified in line with the experience and knowledge of our lawyers.

Specific costs in dossiers such as clerk’s offices, mortgage offices, registration offices, enterprise agencies, work performed by third parties, court costs, judicial officers, experts, translators, parking fees, additional premiums for a professional liability insurance policy (when the client’s interests require additional cover), are passed on separately at cost price.

Office costs incurred by Mercurius advocatenkantoor for the client are invoiced separately. The costs are charged on a fixed basis, as a percentage of the requested fee.

An estimate of the hourly rates and the percentage charged for costs, is made known at the commencement of activities, but will, in any case, be provided to the client directly on request.

All amounts are excluding VAT and excluding any taxes, surcharges or similar increases.

Any dispute of an invoice of Mercurius advocatenkantoor must be sent in writing within 15 days of the invoice date, failing this, the invoice shall be deemed to be accepted.

Mercurius advocatenkantoor may request an advance, prior to the commencement and during the course of the activities, by means of an invoice for advance or provision. An advance or provision is a fixed sum that the client must pay to Mercurius advocatenkantoor prior to an interim invoice or final invoice. Mercurius advocatenkantoor deducts all of the advances paid from the final invoice.

Mercurius advocatenkantoor shall adapt the fee to the Consumer Price Index. The initial index shall be the  index of  the month  preceding signature of the mandate,  and the new index shall be that of  the month preceding the anniversary of the entry into force of the agreement. In addition, Mercurius advocatenkantoor may revise its fees at any time.

The client must inform Mercurius advocatenkantoor which legal assistance insurance company it uses, before work commences on the dossier. If the client’s legal assistance insurance company intervenes in the expenses, the client must pay to Mercurius advocatenkantoor any fees and costs not covered by the legal assistance insurance company.

If Mercurius advocatenkantoor acts on behalf of several persons or legal persons who are linked to each other, these persons or legal persons shall be jointly and severally bound in respect of all debts owed by one or all of them to Mercurius advocatenkantoor. The respective person or legal person shall only cease to be bound in respect of the services rendered to the other persons or legal persons from the time of the termination of the cooperation with one of the persons or legal persons. The respective person or legal person shall remain jointly bound in respect of all services rendered until the time of the termination of the cooperation.

The client must pay invoices within 15 calendar days of their dispatch date. If the client disagrees with the invoice he must protest it in writing within 8 calendar days of receipt. A detail of the services rendered is available on request.

If the client fails to pay the invoice (invoice for advance, interim invoice or final invoice) on time, Mercurius advocatenkantoor may, without being obliged to give the client advance notification of default, demand a fixed sum of compensation amounting to 10% of the outstanding balance, to be uplifted by interest corresponding to the interest rate in line with the provisions of the Act of 02/08/2002 on payment arrears in commercial transactions, and in any case by a minimum of the legal interest rate uplifted by 5%.

Mercurius advocatenkantoor has the right, without being obliged to give the client advance notification of default, either to suspend all further work on the dossier until such time as all outstanding sums have been paid in full, or to terminate the agreement with the client with immediate effect, unless this would be untimely in view of the interests and the defence of the interests of the client.

The client acknowledges that he/she has been informed about the Act of 21 April 2017 concerning the recoverability of fees and costs linked to the assistance of a lawyer (see list of costs of the proceedings). The lawyer may use the costs of the proceedings to settle his fees and costs.

Third-Party Monies

Mercurius advocatenkantoor passes on all sums which it receives for the account of client to the client within the shortest possible period. Mercurius advocatenkantoor may withhold sums received for the account of the client in order to cover provisions, costs or fees, even those not yet falling due. Mercurius advocatenkantoor shall notify the client of this in writing. This provision does not affect the client’s to dispute statements of fees and to claim payment of such withheld sums.

Mercurius advocatenkantoor pays any sums received from the client for the account of third parties immediately to those third parties.

Liability

All lawyers linked to Mercurius advocatenkantoor are individually insured for professional liability and insolvency (with Amlin Europe nv) via an insurance policy subscribed to by the Flemish Bar Association. The payment of the insurance company, subject to the specific conditions of the insurance policy subscribed to, is a maximum of € 2,500,000 per event of damage.

In addition, Mercurius advocatenkantoor has taken out a supplementary, secondary professional liability for lawyers insurance policy with the insurance company AG Insurance nv. The cover of this is € 5,000,000 per insurance year, as a supplement to and after exhaustion of, the € 2,500,000 per event of damage under the primary insurance scheme.

The client accepts that compensation for damage suffered by him/her due to a professional error of Mercurius advocatenkantoor shall be limited to the amount actually paid out by the professional liability insurance company. The client therefore accepts that compensation for damage suffered by him as a result of a professional error of Mercurius advocatenkantoor shall be limited to the amount for which the lawyer of Mercurius advocatenkantoor is insured, and which is paid out by that insurance company.

A copy of the provisions of the professional liability insurance policy of Mercurius advocatenkantoor will be sent to the client directly on request.

In any case, any claim against a lawyer of Mercurius advocatenkantoor shall expire, if Mercurius advocatenkantoor is not notified of the claim in writing within a year of the discovery of the event or circumstance which can or does give rise to liability.

If the professional liability insurance company does not cover the damage, and Mercurius advocatenkantoor is not to blame for this, compensation for a professional error shall be limited in main sum, costs and interest to the amount of the fees paid by the client to Mercurius advocatenkantoor in the relevant dossier, but with an overall maximum of €50,000.

Mercurius advocatenkantoor is not liable for any shortcomings of third parties brought in during the performance of their services, regardless whether these third parties have charged their fees and costs to Mercurius advocatenkantoor or directly to the client.

Mercurius advocatenkantoor is not liable for any loss or damage resulting from the receipt or use of digital communication originating from Mercurius advocatenkantoor or received via Mercurius advocatenkantoor. The client must ensure that his IT installations are adequately protected.

 

Competent Court

The legal relationship between the client and Mercurius advocatenkantoor is governed exclusively by Belgian law, with the exception of rules of international private law. In the event of dispute between Mercurius advocatenkantoor and the client, the courts of Antwerp, Antwerp department shall be competent, without prejudice to the right of Mercurius advocatenkantoor to submit the dispute to the courts and tribunes of the client’s place of residence or registered office.

APPLICATION OF THE MONEY-LAUNDERING PREVENTION ACT

Anti-money-laundering legislation is aimed at curbing various money-laundering practices. The client accepts the application of the Money-Laundering Prevention Act. This means that the lawyer has a duty to identify its clientele and to report money-laundering practices to the President of the Antwerp Bar, if the lawyer:

a)  Is to assist a client with planning or carrying out transactions linked to:

1.    buying and selling of real property or business entities

2.    managing of client money, securities or other assets

3.    opening or management of bank, savings or securities accounts

4.    organisation of contributions necessary for the creation, operation or management of companies

5.    creation, operation or management of trusts, companies, foundations, or similar structures;

b)  Shall act on behalf of and for the account of their client in any kind of financial transactions or real estate transactions

The lawyer has a duty to be vigilant and to identify the client, the agent(s) of the client, or the ultimate beneficial owners of the client. This identification must be performed by means of evidential documents, to be copied on paper or on a digital device. The following applies as evidential documents:

  • For natural persons the passport or identity card

  • For Belgian legal persons or foreign legal persons with an establishment in Belgium: extract from the Crossroads Bank or notarial deed

  • For foreign legal persons without an establishment in Belgium: reliable documents, data or information customary in international legal transactions
     

In addition, the lawyer must know the identity of clients who are not physically present, and he must be able to ascertain whether the clients, agents or ultimate beneficial owners are persons with a prominent public function.

This duty of vigilance and identification requires the cooperation of the client. If the client fails to pass on the anticipated information within two weeks (except in exceptional circumstances), the lawyer may not enter into the business relationship, and if he has already acted provisionally, he shall terminate any further intervention.

The President of the Bar will pass the information on to the Financial Intelligence Processing Unit. The lawyer and the President of the Bar are forbidden to inform the client that information has been passed on or that an investigation is in progress.

 

GENERAL DATA PROTECTION REGULATION 2016/679

Your privacy is important to Mercurius advocatenkantoor.

So, at Mercurius advocatenkantoor we handle data collected from all of our clients in a secure and confidential manner. These General Terms and Conditions describe which of your personal data we process, the basis on which we process it, and why we process it.

  1. Who should be contacted in the event of questions/comments/complaints?

    Any questions, comments or complaints regarding the processing of your personal data can be addressed to Maître Dirk Stas (dirk.stas@mercurius-law.be).

  2. Which personal data is processed?
    We collect and process various different personal data of our clients. This is, amongst others, the following personal data:
    •    National Register number, address, marital status, bank account number, composition of family, date of birth, telephone number, email address;
    •    Data provided in the context of the handling of your dossier and, where applicable, defence in court;
    •    Court rulings and convictions.

  3. Why is this data processed, and on what legal grounds?The above information is collected with a view to handling your dossier, and therefore on the legal grounds of performance of an agreement. By authorising the services, you explicitly consent to Mercurius advocatenkantoor processing your personal data.

  4. The personal data is kept and processed by Mercurius advocatenkantoor, in any case, for the period required for the processing aims and for the contractual relationship between us. On the completion of each task, Mercurius advocatenkantoor archives the dossier, and then keeps the data for a period of 5 years. After the aforesaid 5-year period, the file is permanently erased.

  5. Rights
    a)  Right of Access and Inspection
    You have the right to inspect your personal data, and our use of your personal data, at any time, free of charge.
    b) Right to Rectify, Erase and Restrict
    You are free to share your personal data with us or not. In addition, you have the right to request us to rectify, supplement or erase your personal data at any time. You can also request us to restrict the processing of your personal data.
    c) Right to Object
    You also have a right to oppose the processing of your personal data, for serious and legitimate reasons.
    d) Right to Transfer Data
    You have the right to obtain your personal data processed by us, in a structured, commonly used and machine-readable format and/or to transfer it to other controllers.
    e) Right to Withdraw Consent
    In as much as the processing is based on your advance consent, you have the right to withdraw that consent.
    f) Automatic Decision-Making and Profiling
    The processing of your personal data does not include profiling, and we will not subject you to automatic decision-making.
    g) Exercise of Your Rights
    You can exercise your rights by contacting Maître Dirk Stas (dirk.stas@mercurius-law.be)
    h) Complaints
    You have the right to submit a complaint to the Data Protection Authority (Gegevensbeschermingsautoriteit), Drukpersstraat 35, 1000 Brussels, Tel +32 (0)2 274 48 00, Fax +32 (0)2 274 48 35, Email: contact@apd-gba.be
    This does not affect any redress in civil court proceedings.
    If you suffer damage as a result of the processing of your personal data, you can bring a claim for compensation.

  6. Transfer to Third Parties
    Some of your personal data processed by Mercurius advocatenkantoor is passed on to third parties (judicial officers, translators, other lawyers, public notaries, experts, accountants, etc.) in the context of your dossier.
    The aforementioned third parties process personal data at the instruction of our organisation, in order to perform a specific task. We draw up processing agreements with all of the aforementioned organisations, and do our utmost to ensure that they provide adequate security for your personal data.
    Your personal data will not be sold, leased, distributed or made commercially available to third parties in any manner, except as described above, or with your prior consent.
    In rare cases, we may be obliged to divulge your personal data pursuant to a court order, or in order to comply with different compulsory legislation or regulations.

  7. Security and Confidentiality
    We have developed appropriate technical and organisational measures to prevent destruction, loss, falsification, alteration, access by unauthorised parties and accidental communication to third parties of the personal data collected, and any other unauthorised processing of this data.