News & Insights

  • 19/04/2021
  • News

Van Bael & Bellis secures top-tier position in The Legal 500 2021

In the Legal 500 2021 rankings recently published online, Van Bael & Bellis once again secures its position in the top tiers of these rankings with six practice areas ranked in tiers 1 and 2. Van Bael & Bellis consolidates its position as a leading law firm with 28 lawyers recognized by the directory, where 7 lawyers are listed as "Leading individuals" and three lawyers as "Next Generation Partners". The firm also see one of its associates recognized as a "Rising Star". Team rankings and a flavour of their accolades now follow. Customs, Trade and Anti-dumping (Tier 1): ‘The trade and customs practice's “levels of expertise are exceptional” and, as a result, the team “knows which battles to fight” when advising on EU anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigations, as well as WTO disputes.’ Healthcare and Life Sciences (Tier 1): ‘Catherine Longeval and pharmaceuticals specialist Peter L’Ecluse co-head the team, with Longeval praised for offering “incredible depth and breadth of regulatory knowledge”.’ Competition - EU and Global (Tier 2): ‘[Van Bael & Bellis] are extremely good in competition law, if not the best I have worked with. They are exceptionally competent, business-minded and very reactive in their replies: all one can need!’ Competition - Belgian Law (Tier 2): ‘Van Bael & Bellis is a major player in all areas of Belgian competition law and is trusted by clients to handle their most reputationally-sensitive and business-critical matters.’ Dispute resolution (Tier 2): ‘The 'superb' Catherine Longeval heads up the department at Van Bael & Bellis, which is well known for its strength in handling competition and life sciences litigation.’ Commercial, Corporate and M&A (Tier 3): ‘Van Bael & Bellis' team demonstrates strong capabilities in high-profile corporate transactions and other complex mandates of the utmost significance for its clients.’ EU Regulatory - Privacy and Data Protection (Tier 3): ‘Van Bael & Bellis' team is assisting Gedeon Richter with implementing the ePrivacy Directive throughout the EU. GDPR compliance is another key area of expertise for the group.’ Intellectual property (Tier 3): ‘Van Bael & Bellis combines IP expertise with knowledge about related competition, regulatory and sector-specific issues. Equally strong in Belgian and cross-border matters, the firm acts for companies operating in industries such as pharmaceuticals and biotech, consumer electronics, IT, sports and entertainment.’ Employment (Tier 4): ‘Van Bael & Bellis' 'very committed and dedicated' team is noted for its 'pragmatic yet thorough approach' to employment law, and has been kept particularly busy handling restructurings and collective dismissals recently, often with cross-border elements.’ The lawyers recognised by Legal 500 across these nine practice areas are: Sarah Arens, Jean-François Bellis, Sara Beutels, Michel Bonne, Michael Clancy, Gabriele Coppo, Philippe De Baere, Quentin Declève, Thibaut D’hulst, Clotilde du Parc, Porter Elliott, Fabrizio Di Gianni, Catherine Gordley, David Hull, Tim Kasten, Andrzej Kmiecik, Peter L’Ecluse, Valérie Lefever, Catherine Longeval, Richard Luff, Hannelore Matthys, Pablo Muñiz, Andreas Reindl, Yuriy Rudyuk, Aldo Scalini, Benoît Servais, Michel Struys, Koen T’Syen, Johan Van Acker, Kris Van Hove, Markus Wellinger. The full rankings can be accessed here.

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    • 11/06/2021
    • Articles

    Belgium - Constitutional Court Rejects Challenge to Statutory Medicine Shortage Rules, Including Export Restrictions

    The Constitutional Court dismissed on 10 June 2021 the action which the Belgian Association of Parallel Importers and Exporters, several other parties active in the parallel trade in medicines, and pharmacists in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda (the Applicants) had brought to obtain the annulment of Articles 2, 3 and 4 of the Law of 20 December 2019 modifying various laws to tackle medicine shortages (Wet van 20 december 2019 tot wijziging van diverse wetgevingen wat de tekorten aan geneesmiddelen betreft/Loi du 20 décembre 2020 modifiant diverses législations, en ce qui concerne les pénuries de médicaments – the Law). The Constitutional Court had already rejected a request for suspension of the same provisions (see, Van Bael & Bellis News and Insights of 20 July 2020). Yesterday’s judgment (see, attachments) focused on the powers given by statute to the government to establish a procedure for the creation of a temporary limitation or prohibition of the exportation of medicines that are unavailable on the Belgian market. The Applicants relied on the European free movement of goods principles but also on several provisions of Belgian law to challenge these restrictions. However, the Constitutional Court considered the contested rules justified in that they permit the government to counter situations in which medicine supplies to Belgian patients are no longer guaranteed. The Constitutional Court distinguished the new rules, which will be applied on a case-by-case basis following an assessment of the causes and nature of the particular shortage afflicting a specific medicine, from the blanket export prohibition imposed on wholesaler-distributors which it struck down in 2019 (see, Van Bael & Bellis Life Sciences News and Insights of 19 July 2019 and 17 October 2019). As the Constitutional Court has allowed the challenged statutory medicine shortage rules to stand, the question arises when the government will come up with the requisite implementing rules. Pressed on the subject in Parliament, the Minister of Social Affairs and Public Health indicated back in February 2021 that these proposed rules are under review, but he did not give a timetable for their adoption. Four months later, it is still not clear when they will become law.

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    • 10/06/2021
    • News

    Uğur Can Hekim moderates panel on “Redirecting the World Trade Organization” at the Horasis Global Meeting virtual event 2021

    Van Bael & Bellis lawyer Ugur Can Hekim moderated a panel titled “Redirecting the World Trade Organization” on 8 June 2021 at the Horasis Global Meeting – one of the foremost annual meetings of the world’s leading decision makers from business, government and civil society. The topics under discussion were current challenges in the multilateral trading system, expectations for the new DG’s tenure, the WTO's role in global health, environment and sustainable development in the midst of global crises as well as its position in the global interinstitutional order. The panel speakers were: Jonathan Fried, former Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Canada to the WTO, former personal representative of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to the G20, Senior Associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), and Senior Advisor at Albright Stonebridge Group, USA; Ricardo Meléndez-Ortiz, former Director of the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD - Geneva), co-founder and former General Director, Fundación Futuro Latinoamericano (FFLA – Quito), permanent Colombian Delegate and negotiator for GATT/WTO, former Principal Adviser to the Colombian Minister of Economic Development and Chief of Administration at the office of the President of Colombia, and Strategic Adviser at Latin Trade Group, USA; and Kola Adesina, Group Managing Director of Sahara Group, a pan-Africanist entrepreneur who promotes regional integration and trade among the states of African states. Further information on the event is available here.

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    • 01/06/2021
    • Articles

    Belgian DPA Approves First European Code of Conduct

    On 20 May 2021, the Belgian Data Protection Authority (Gegevensbeschermingsautoriteit / Autorité de protection des données – the DPA) approved the first transnational code of conduct to be adopted within the European Union since the entry into force of General Data Protection Regulation (EU) 2016/679 (the GDPR). The “EU Data Protection Code of Conduct for Cloud Service Providers” (the EU Cloud CoC) aims to establish good data protection practices for cloud service providers and wishes to contribute to a better protection of personal data processed in the cloud in Europe. One day earlier, on 19 May 2021, the European Data Protection Board issued a favourable opinion, allowing the DPA to approve the first transnational code of conduct. In its approval decision, the DPA underlines the importance of codes of conduct as voluntary accountability tools to tailor data protection rules to the specificities of a sector. By adhering to the code, companies will ensure that data handling is in line with the GDPR. Adherence to the EU Cloud CoC is also achievable for small and medium enterprises that are active in this sector. Please click below to read our note on the Code of Conduct.

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    • 31/05/2021
    • Articles

    Medical Devices - Free Market Access between European Union and Switzerland Given Blow

    Regulation (EU) 2017/745, the new Medical Device Regulation (MDR), started to apply on 26 May 2021, more than four years after its adoption in April 2017. However, this important step in the development of the regulatory framework governing medical devices coincided with a shrinking of the internal market for these products as trade in medical devices between the European Union (EU) and Switzerland became subject to more red tape. This is because the chapter covering medical devices of the EU – Switzerland Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) has not been updated to reflect the application of the MDR (see, the attached European Commission Notice to Stakeholders – the Notice). The failure to modernise the MRA is ironic, because both sides have tightened their requirements with respect to medical devices, mainly to improve safety and increase regulatory oversight. Even though the regulatory adjustments to EU and Swiss medical device rules are thus largely comparable, reciprocal free market access has fallen by the wayside because of the EU’s insistence that no piecemeal regulatory adaptations in areas of mutual interest will be made as long as the parties do not agree on an overarching Institutional Framework Agreement (IFA). Negotiations in pursuit of the IFA started in 2014, but were terminated by Switzerland on 26 May 2021, which thus added further complications to an eventful day. The EU and Switzerland apparently anticipated these developments and, based on a proposal submitted by the European Commission, have tried to work out transitional arrangements for the MRA, including a grace period until 2024, but these talks failed as well. The consequences for the EU-Swiss trade in medical devices are devastating as Switzerland exports more than EUR 4.5bn worth of medical devices to the EU, while it imports over EUR 2.4bn. Even though this trade will not dry up, it will become harder to sustain. Similarly, investment decisions, primarily those directed at Switzerland, may also be affected. Industry will have to contend with additional expenses because the trade facilitating measures of the MRA no longer apply. Market surveillance will also be adversely affected. And new regulatory burdens will emerge. For its part, Switzerland has put in place measures to mitigate these negative effects. For example, the measures will ensure the equivalence of the Swiss rules governing medical devices to those of the EU. Additionally, importers in Switzerland will be given time to appoint an authorised representative, adjust labelling, carry out registrations with Swissmedic, the Swiss regulatory authority, and effect specific publications. Conversely, there are no transitional rules that apply to importers in the EU. As a result and as explained in the Notice, since 26 May 2021, these businesses are required to: • ensure that medical devices are certified by an EU conformity assessment body if such a certification is dictated by the applicable conformity assessment procedure; • designate an EU authorised representative; • observe the rules governing the registration and labelling of products.

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    • 18/05/2021
    • Newsletters

    VBB on Competition Law, Volume 2021, No. 4

    The April 2021 issue of our newsletter, VBB on Competition Law, which covers major developments in competition law at the European Union, UK and Member State levels.

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    • 11/05/2021
    • Newsletters

    VBB on Belgian Business Law, Volume 2021, No. 4

    The April 2021 issue of our Belgian Business Law newsletter reporting on the latest developments in a range of areas, including competition, data protection, intellectual property and labour law.

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