Leading Brussels law firm Van Bael & Bellis to open London office

Van Bael & Bellis announces today that it will open a London office on 1 September 2020, subject to SRA approval.  Located at 5 Chancery Lane, the office will be led by senior partner David Hull, managing partner Philippe De Baere and partner Alex Stratakis, who will join from Baker McKenzie’s London office.

The focus of the London office will be international trade and customs law, UK and EU competition law, and public international law, key areas of noted strength for the firm.  The firm’s presence in London will fill a gap in market competence that is a direct result of the UK’s exit from the EU, whereby companies and government entities involved in trade disputes and/or competition cases will be required to deal with various UK regulatory authorities and courts, alongside representation in the EU.

The new office will work in conjunction with the firm’s head office in Brussels, which is renowned for its expertise in EU and national competition law, EU trade and customs law, EU regulatory law, and corporate and commercial law.

Philippe De Baere comments:

Companies will increasingly need advice on the implications of the UK exiting the EU and how to mitigate any negative effects on their supply chains. Also, foreign direct investment/national security screening in the UK is set to become more rigorous and complex following recent changes to the Enterprise Act. A similar phenomenon is happening in the EU where new trade instruments are being developed to ensure that its companies can benefit from a level playing field. With regard to international trade, the UK will require representation as it becomes directly involved as a party in WTO dispute settlement proceedings. Our substantial and unparalleled experience in the field of trade and customs law means we will be ideally placed to provide advice on such matters.

David Hull comments:

Until now, in Europe, all large (international) competition and trade investigations fell within the exclusive competence of the European Commission.  Post-Brexit, the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) and the UK Trade Remedies Investigations Directorate (TRID) are likely to handle issues such as complex merger control assessments, antitrust investigations and trade disputes.

For competition work, companies will be required to manage both EU and UK regulatory requirements and this will be particularly important for mergers.  Consequently, transferable expertise will be essential and, as one of Brussels’ largest competition teams, we are well positioned to advise international companies on the EU and UK interplay and offer them a one-stop shop.”


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