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Diplomatic Law

Expert Legal Services for Diplomatic Missions in Belgium

At S-TEAM , we understand the unique legal challenges faced by diplomatic missions and their members. Our diplomatic desk is dedicated to providing specialized legal assistance in the field of Diplomatic Law and State Immunities. Staffed by experts in the field, we proudly represent a wide array of foreign states, embassies, permanent representations, diplomatic missions to EU and to NATO, offering comprehensive legal solutions tailored to the specific needs of the diplomatic community.

Expertise in Diplomatic Law and State Immunities

Our team is well-versed in every legal aspect of diplomatic activity within Belgium. From the intricate details of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, 1961, to the specificities of the European Convention on State Immunity, our lawyers possess the knowledge and experience to navigate the complex legal landscape that diplomatic missions face. We aim to provide a high quality one-stop service, addressing all legal issues that may arise for diplomatic missions, their diplomats, and their families.

Comprehensive Legal Services for Diplomatic Missions

Our diplomatic desk offers a wide array of services designed to facilitate the smooth operation of diplomatic missions in Belgium. These services include, but are not limited to:

  • Legal Advisory: Offering guidance on the Protocol Guide on Immunities and Privileges as published by the Belgian Federal Public Service of Foreign Affairs, ensuring that diplomatic missions and their members enjoy the privileges they are entitled to.
  • Immunity and Tax Privileges: Navigating issues related to immunities and tax privileges, including exemptions from taxes, VAT and customs.
  • Contractual and Litigation Support: Handling the drafting and legal management of contracts for diplomatic missions, along with representing missions in any related litigation. This includes specialized strategies for labor law disputes and representation before labor courts, a primary concern for many diplomatic missions.
  • Payroll and social security: Assistance and legal advice on managing the payroll of local employees and posted staff (exemption from Belgian social security system and voluntary participation)
  • Real Estate and Banking Assistance: Providing support for all real estate transactions and banking relations, ensuring smooth financial and property dealings within Belgium.

In addition to providing legal assistance critical for the operational aspects of diplomatic missions, S-TEAM diplomatic desk extends its expertise to advising foreign states on the legal frameworks essential for making informed foreign policy decisions. This encompasses assistance in avoiding conflicts with international public law through the careful drafting of treaties, Memorandums of Understanding, cooperation agreements, headquarters agreements, etc. and ensuring these documents are in strict compliance with imperative international legal norms (jus cogens) and the state's existing commitments. This comprehensive approach underscores our commitment to supporting our clients in navigating the intricate landscape of international diplomacy and law.

Tailored Fee Structures
Understanding the varying needs of diplomatic missions, we offer flexible fee arrangements, including all-inclusive annual subscriptions. We also offer other standard fee structures, such as hourly billing or flat-rate fees, depending on the specific needs of each diplomatic mission.

At S-TEAM , our goal is to ensure that diplomatic missions and their members can focus on their important work, secure in the knowledge that their legal affairs are in expert hands.


Diplomatic and Consular Missions

We regularly advise diplomatic and consular missions not only on the application of (i) the rules of law relating to their status, privileges and immunities and to those of the members of their staff and their families, as they derive in particular from the Conventions of Vienna on diplomatic and consular relations, but also (ii) on provisions of Belgian law. For example, we can intervene within the framework of:

  • Providing advice on Belgian labor legislation;
  • Drafting of social documents in accordance with Belgian law (work regulations eligible for approval by the Commission des Bons Offices (CBO) and the work inspection, employment contracts, dismissal letters etc.);
  • Obtaining work permits for certain members of the staff of diplomatic missions (especially when the period of validity of special cards expires);
  • Rules governing the main contracts binding the diplomatic mission or the consulate with local players (leases, sales contracts, business or insurance contracts, etc.);
  • Rules governing immunities from jurisdiction and execution of diplomatic missions, consulates and diplomats;
  • Tracking CD license plates and special identity cards to categories of personnel active in diplomatic and consular missions, and to members of their families;
  • Monitoring of special identity cards for private servants of foreign diplomatic representatives (being the head of a diplomatic or consular post or the head of a recognized international organization with diplomatic status).

We also assist diplomatic and consular missions in monitoring, if necessary in close collaboration with the Protocol Service (foreign affairs) and the FPS Finance, all legal and tax matters concerning them.

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International Organizations

We advise international organizations on all types of legal matters and, in particular, on any issue inherent in the application of a Headquarters Agreements (bilateral and multilateral) establishing the statutes of international organizations wishing to establish themselves in Belgium.

These Headquarters Agreements primarily determine the fiscal privileges and jurisdictional immunities of the organization and of its staff.

We moreover, manage the administrative aspects of the stay of international civil servants and members of their families on Belgian territory in consultation with the Protocol Service and international organizations.

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We advise diplomatic missions and international organizations in legal disputes before Belgian courts and, if necessary, represent them vis-à-vis the Protocol Service.

We also manage cases handled at the level of the Commission des Bons Offices (CBO), a body created in 2013 to intervene in disputes relating to labor law and Belgian social security between foreign diplomatic missions, and members of their staff.

This commission helps to resolve individual or collective problems through information, conciliation, or mediation, and provides advice in order to find amicable arrangements.

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