COMMERCIAL & ECONOMIC LAW
1) GENERAL COMMERCIAL LAW AND INTERNATIONAL/NATIONAL COMMERCIAL CONTRACTS
Astrea has extensive expertise and experience in general commercial law. We draft commercial contracts such as general terms and conditions, purchase/sale agreements, rental agreements, service agreements, leasing agreements and general cooperation agreements.
Astrea assists you in order to:
- avoid risks during the negotiating phase
- properly organise the liability of the different parties
- carefully draft the contractual provisions
- make payment techniques as risk-free as possible
- optimally manage the termination of the agreement
- manage the competition law and private international law aspects of these contracts
In addition to drafting and negotiating these contracts, Astrea also assists its Belgian and international clients in legal disputes concerning these contracts. Our lawyers are well-versed in litigation, both before the courts and in arbitration proceedings. Although we are known for our quick, effective and efficient action, we always take our clients’ business and strategic interests into account.
Astrea has very specific and thorough expertise in the area of distribution law. Our firm supports its national and international clients in the start-up, performance and termination of distribution activities with respect to all possible forms of distribution, such as exclusive distribution concessions, commercial agency, franchise, selective distribution and commission relationships, etc.
Our agreements not only comply with all applicable legislation, they also optimally protect your interests and are completely tailored to your project.
Due to our international network of correspondents, we also provide international services to foreign companies that establish a sales network in Belgium or to Belgian companies with cross-border activities.
We further represent distributors of products and services or other commercial entities in all possible disputes relating to the performance and/or termination of these agreements, both before the normal courts and arbitration tribunals.
We also regularly advise on parallel imports, advertising, unfair competition and associated market practices and dispute resolution.
Although we provide these services in many sectors, we have built up distinct experience and a solid reputation throughout the years in the automobile sector, in which we advise several makes on the organisation of their dealer network
MARKET PRACTICES AND CONSUMER LAW
The Belgian Market Practices and Consumer Law Act [Wet op de Marktpraktijken en het Consumentenrecht] governs a variety of matters, including price and quantity indication, remote contracts, contracts entered into beyond the scope of the company’s business, advertising and unfair competition, forced sales, unlawful clauses, etc. The Act also includes mandatory consumer protection regulations that companies must observe.
Astrea has in-depth knowledge of this Act and can therefore give its client preventive advice on specific regulations, by testing what is permitted under this Act on a case-by-case basis. In this way, our advice covers:
- agreements with consumers (remote selling, unlawful clauses, joint offers)
- advertising laws and regulations on marketing and promotional campaigns
- latching-on/parasitism and other unfair market practices
- defence against unfair competition via the Market Practices Act
Astrea also defends its clients in disputes, such as prohibitory injunction proceedings, in which the cessation of an unfair market practice can be achieved by means of a cease-and-desist order.
We lastly also represent our clients in judicial and extrajudicial proceedings and at the administrative authorities (FPS Economy) in these matters.
COMPETITION LAW, STATE AID AND INTERNAL MARKET LEGISLATION
Astrea’s expertise covers all aspects of European and Belgian competition law: cartel law, abuse of a dominant position, control in case of a company merger, State aid law, etc. Astrea’s lawyers represent Belgian and international companies before the competition authorities and the courts, both at Belgian and European level.
We provide guidance to our clients on competition law risks. Astrea has built up specific expertise in relation to:
- product distribution
- permissible restrictions on reselling
- exclusivity arrangements
- and other aspects of competition between brands and within the same brand
We also assist clients with:
- establishing and implementing optimal distribution systems
- drafting and screenng horizontal and vertical cooperation agreements, including with respect to the application of the new EU Block Exemption Regulation
- merger and acquisition notifications
- complaints about competition law infringements
- dawn raids or public inquiries by European or Belgian competition authorities
Astrea gives regular competition law training and develops customised enforcement programmes for its clients. These programmes assist our clients in avoiding infringements of competition law and prepares them for dawn raids by the supervisory authorities.
Astrea also advises Belgian and international companies on the consequences of European internal market legislation and the manner in which this has been transposed in the EU Member States. Our expertise covers:
- product regulations
- food safety
- privacy law
- environmental law
- intellectual property
- regulation of online services
- financial law
We further assist clients in applying internal market freedoms and challenging national legislation that contravenes European law (free movement of persons, goods, services and capital). Our clients can also rely on us for representation in proceedings before the European Court of Justice and for complaints at the European Commission.
INSURANCE AND LIABILITY LAW
Sooner or later every company is faced with a liability claim from a contractual partner or third party, or with the liability of one or more parties that have caused it loss or damage.
The interaction between contractual and non-contractual liability is often very complicated because the law imposes strict rules on which parties can be held liable and by whom. It is therefore not unusual for large liability cases to involve multiple interests and these require an expert approach. This applies all the more given that the effort is often exceptional – accident do not only lead to substantial financial loss, they are also often accompanied by serious injury.
Such claims for compensation moreover usually involve insurance law aspects because of possible recourse. The frequent rearguard actions between the insured and insurer imply the need for expert legal knowledge to analyse and interpret insurance policies.
Astrea assists national and international clients with advice and in proceedings involving liability issues, including in industry and logistics. We also have broad experience at the level of liability insurance.
Credit insurance offers protection against the risk that a customer cannot pay for supplied goods and services because he is declared bankrupt or ceased payments.
As part of their commercial relationships, companies grant payment terms and assume a risk.
Every company, regardless of its size or activity, must protect its domestic or foreign transactions against non-payment.
By taking out credit insurance, companies can obtain maximum protection against suspension of payments. Export credit insurance is available for doing business abroad.
Credit insurance is a definite recommendation for growth companies and for companies whose turnover is partly earned abroad.
Astrea assists insurers and insured parties in gauging the appropriateness of taking out credit insurance, in negotiating the agreement, in collecting the cover in case of a claim and in any other discussions and/or disputes regarding the content, performance and/or interpretation of credit insurance policies.