Overview

Jean-François Bellis is a founding partner of Van Bael & Bellis. Before setting up the firm in 1986, he clerked for Lord Mackenzie Stuart, the British judge at the European Court of Justice, and was a partner in the European law department of a major Brussels law firm. Jean-François has several decades of experience in competition and trade law, representing clients in numerous cases before the European Commission and the EU Courts.

EU Competition Law

Jean-François assists clients on all aspects of competition law with particular expertise in cartels, abuses of dominance and merger control.  He has acted in landmark competition cases, including United Brands, Woodpulp, Michelin I and II, Microsoft and Intel.

EU and International Trade Law

Jean-François has assisted clients in numerous anti-dumping and anti-subsidy cases in proceedings before the European Commission and in related litigation before the EU Courts and the WTO dispute settlement system. He was appointed by the WTO Director-General as a member of the WTO panel in the Automotive Leather dispute between the US and Australia.

Languages

French, English

Distinctions

In 2014, Jean-François was honoured by Chambers & Partners for his “Outstanding Contribution to the Legal Profession”. Previously, in 2011, the Global Competition Review (GCR) granted him a “Lifetime Achievement Award” in recognition of his longstanding experience in competition law. He has also been named by Best Lawyers as a “Lawyer of the Year” for 2010, 2013, 2014 and 2015. 

Recommendations

  • Chambers Europe for Competition and Trade Law – Band 1
  • Chambers Europe for International Trade/WTO – Star Individual  
  • International Who's Who of Business Lawyers for Competition and Trade
  • Expert Guides – Guide to the World's Leading Competition and Antitrust Lawyers
  • Expert Guides – Guide to the World's Leading Trade Lawyers
  • Expert Guides – Best of the Best Top Competition Lawyers Worldwide
  • Legal 500 for Competition Law
  • Legal 500 for Customs, Trade, WTO and Anti-dumping
  • PLC for Competition Law
  • IFLR1000 – EU Competition (Leading Lawyer) 
  • European Legal Experts for Competition Law
  • Best Lawyers – Competition/Antitrust
  • Best Lawyers – Government Practice
  • Best Lawyers – Trade Law

Education

  • University of Michigan Law School, LL.M., 1974
  • University of Brussels (ULB), Master of Laws, 1972 

Publications

Jean-François Bellis has written numerous books and articles on competition and trade law and regularly speaks on both of these subjects at international conferences and seminars.

Teaching Posts

Jean-François Bellis teaches a course on EU competition law at the Institute of European Studies of the University of Brussels (ULB) and directs a seminar on competition law at the University of Liège. He also lectures on abuses of dominance at the Brussels School of Competition.

Bar Admission

Brussels

Notable assignments

  • Representing Microsoft throughout the landmark proceedings that led to the 2004 European Commission abuse of dominance decision. On appeal, Jean-François helped the company obtain a partial annulment of that decision with respect to the Commission’s remedial powers. Subsequently, in Microsoft’s appeal for alleged non-compliance with the 2004 decision, Jean-François helped Microsoft obtain the largest fine reduction in any case involving abuse of dominance.

  • Representing ACT, a trade association of more than 5,000 IT firms worldwide, in support of Intel’s challenge to the Commission decision imposing a record fine of €1.06 billion on Intel for allegedly granting rebates and payments conditional on exclusivity. The case raised many novel issues, including burden of proof, the proper legal test for assessing fidelity rebates, the Commission’s duties when gathering evidence, and jurisdiction.

  • Representing CISAC, as well as eight individual copyright management societies, in their appeal to the EU General Court which led to the annulment of the European Commission’s decision which had found CISAC and its European members to have engaged in concerted practices in violation of EU competition law.

  • Representing Japan Airlines, Japan’s largest flag carrier, and Thai Airways in the cartel proceeding initiated by the European Commission against more than 20 airlines in the airfreight sector. Charges against Thai Airways were dropped and Jean-François obtained the annulment by the EU General Court of the €35.7 million fine imposed on Japan Airlines. Jean-François is also acting as coordinating counsel in defending Japan Airlines in follow-on actions for damages brought in EU Member State courts.

Publications and insights

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    • 07/06/2019
    • News

    Van Bael & Bellis lawyers speak at seminar on EU competition law developments in Tokyo on 5 June 2019 organised in collaboration with Keidanren, the Japan Business Federation

    Van Bael & Bellis lawyers spoke at a seminar on EU competition law developments on 5 June 2019 at the headquarters of Keidanren – the premier organization representing Japanese business, whose members include the main Japanese multinational companies – in Tokyo before a large audience. Thomas Kramler, Head of Unit, DG Competition, European Commission, spoke on EU competition policy in the digital era. Van Bael & Bellis partners Kris Van Hove and Andrzej Kmiecik and counsel Etsuko Kameoka spoke on developments in the areas of cartels, vertical restraints and legal professional privilege, respectively. Keidanren Executive Director, Takashi Inoue, opened the event, while Van Bael & Bellis Chairman Jean-François Bellis delivered introductory and concluding remarks.

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    • 06/06/2019
    • News

    Jean-François Bellis speaks on “Trade and antitrust” at the 15th Annual IBA Competition Mid-Year Conference in Tokyo on 6 June 2019

    Van Bael & Bellis founding partner Jean-François Bellis participated on 6 June 2019 as a speaker on a panel on Trade and antitrust: will trade wars make antitrust law great again? at the 15th Annual IBA Competition Mid-Year Conference in Tokyo. In his remarks, Jean-François addressed the controversy following the European Commission decision to block the Alstom-Siemens merger including the calls made by the French and German governments to revisit the EU merger control system. Further information on the conference is available here.

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    • 31/05/2019
    • News

    Jean-François Bellis Appointed Chairman of Van Bael & Bellis

    Van Bael & Bellis has announced a new corporate structure, effective from 1 June 2019. Under the new structure, founding and co-managing partner, Jean-François Bellis, will become Chairman of the firm. Co-managing partner, Philippe De Baere, will be the sole managing partner while Andrzej Kmiecik will take over as head of the firm’s EU competition practice. Jean-François has led the firm since its inception in 1986. He is widely recognised as one of the eminent practitioners in the field of EU competition and trade law. In his new role as Chairman, he will continue to remain active in his practice, working directly with clients and contributing to the development of the firm through his case work. While he will remain a key member of the EU competition team, senior competition partner, Andrzej Kmiecik, will act as head of the EU competition practice. Philippe has been a partner at Van Bael & Bellis since 1994. In September 2016, he was appointed co-managing partner. He is widely recognised as one of the leading practitioners in the field of EU and international trade law and he will continue to act as head of the international trade practice. Alongside working directly with clients, he will be active in shaping the firm’s continued development and direction. Philippe remarks “This is an exciting time for Van Bael & Bellis and I am honoured to step into this role. I am committed to building on the firm’s legacy of first-rate legal expertise and outstanding client care. We are witnessing more rapid change than at any other time in our history. Our role is to make sure that we put our clients and their needs first, so that we can continue delivering more value to their businesses.” Andrzej has been a partner at Van Bael & Bellis since 1994. He is widely recognised as one of the world’s leading EU competition law experts. Over the years, he has been involved in several of the most high-profile EU cases and investigations, particularly with regard to cartels, merger control proceedings and distribution and licensing.

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