Terms & Conditions
1. Our services
The S-Team lawyers provide legal assistance in all areas of business law and diplomatic law.
2. Our fees and expenses
2.1. Method of calculating fees
Unless otherwise agreed, our fees are generally calculated on the basis of an hourly rate, which ranges from 180 to 450 euros VAT excluded.
Hourly rates are set per case according to several criteria including, in particular, the experience of the lawyer in charge of the case, the importance of the case, the nature of the duties to be performed, the complexity of the case and the capacity client’s financial situation. In certain cases – generally in litigation – a success fee may also be invoiced.
Depending on the case, employees or trainees may be billed to the client at a rate different from that applied by the dominus litis.
Finally, the applicable hourly rates may be reviewed periodically, all with prior agreement from clients.
2.2. Expenses and disbursements
A flat-rate contribution of 10% of the fees is requested to cover the various costs inherent in the services of lawyers (computer network, printing, telephone, etc.) which is, unless otherwise agreed, already included in the hourly rate mentioned above. S-Team lawyers reserve the right to invoice at cost price any photocopying work of an unusual or complex scale.
The consultation of certain external databases may give rise to invoicing at cost price. Travel costs by car (excluding taxis) outside Brussels may also be invoiced at a price of 0.45 euro per kilometer. Other travel expenses (taxi, train, plane, etc.) or parking may be at cost.
Finally, unless otherwise agreed, the costs of registered mail, porters, bailiffs, registry, experts, translators, etc. are (i) either paid directly by the client (ii) or advanced by the dominus litis and then charged to the client’s account at cost price, all at the discretion of the dominus litis.
2.3. Value added tax (VAT)
VAT is charged on all our fees.
2.4. Requests for down payments and statements of fees
Requests for retainers can be made to the client at the start of a case and as the work progresses to cover future services.
However, our lawyers ensure that they send their clients an interim statement of costs and fees at regular intervals and a statement of closing costs and fees at the end of each case.
2.5. Estimate of fees and expenses
Although it is difficult to estimate the costs and fees in a case (in particular in a procedure) given the changes or unforeseen events that may occur due to the various stakeholders involved in the case, or even specific factors to the client and to the evolution of his objectives, S-Team lawyers endeavor, at the request of their clients, to give reasonable estimates.
However, such estimates can in no way constitute binding commitments on the part of the S-Team lawyers, unless the latter have given their agreement to a budget or a maximum amount of fees.
3. Payment of our invoices
Our lawyers’ invoices are payable upon receipt. In the event that an invoice remains unpaid 30 days after receipt, S-Team lawyers reserve the right to charge late interest at the legal rate in force. Any questions regarding an invoice can be addressed to the lawyer in charge of the case as soon as possible and, under penalty of foreclosure, within one year of sending the invoice from that lawyer. If any item on an invoice is disputed, the uncontested items are payable immediately.
Our lawyers’ invoices are payable in euros.
If one of the invoices of an S-Team lawyer remains unpaid, the latter may validly, by written notification, suspend or cease all work relating to the file to which the invoice relates and, if this situation persists despite a reminder payment, to put an end to its intervention.
If the client agrees with the lawyer S-Team that his fees, expenses, or disbursements for which he is liable will be paid by a third person, the client remains responsible for their payment in the event that the latter does not intervene within a reasonable time.
All the sums that our lawyers may be required to hold on behalf of their clients will be deposited in a third-party account in accordance with the ethical rules to which the lawyer S-Team is subject.
4. Communications between the parties
Our lawyers communicate with their clients mainly by email, considering that you have taken adequate measures to ensure the security and confidentiality of communications (including the risk of interception or unauthorized access to these communications or the risks of virus). S-Team lawyers also maintain adequate information security measures.
5. Confidentiality and relations with other clients
Any information you provide to us that is not in the public domain will be considered confidential. We will only disclose this with your consent or if we are required to do so by law or by a judicial or administrative authority. However, we may communicate any relevant element of your affairs to your other counsel, unless you instruct otherwise.
We will seek your consent before making public, for the purpose of external communication, our intervention as lawyers in any case that you have entrusted to us.
5.2. Conflicts of interests
We advise a large number of clients and may find ourselves in a situation where we assist clients whose interests compete with yours.
We will nevertheless take care, in accordance with our rules of ethics, to avoid intervening when there is a conflict of interest or a significant risk of conflict of interest in connection with the matters that you have entrusted to us.
However, we cannot anticipate all of these situations. If you become aware of a situation that could lead to a conflict, we ask you to notify us as soon as possible.
6. Documentation and opinions
You will be able to use and copy freely, for your own use only, all the opinions and the documentation that we have drafted in the context of one of your files but they must be considered confidential and all intellectual property rights about them will remain our property.
We maintain records of your files in accordance with requirements placed upon us. We will return the originals to you upon your first request. At the end of the retention period provided for by law and by our rules of ethics, we may have to destroy the file without notifying you, unless you ask us to keep certain documents.
7. Foreign correspondents, notaries public and other experts
We may, if required or appropriate in the context of a case entrusted to us, call on notaries, corresponding lawyers, industrial property advisers, experts or other advisers, on your behalf and at your expense.
You will be consulted before any intervention by such third parties, the costs and fees of which will be at your expense. We will be authorized to pay all fees and expenses necessary or useful for your assistance. We assume no responsibility for any advice given, services rendered or any breaches of third-party stakeholders appointed on your behalf.
8. Professional obligations
8.1. Compliance with code of ethics
We practise a regulated profession subject to codes of ethical standards laid down by the French and German-Speaking Bar Association (www.avocat.be), the Flemish Bar Association (www.advocaat.be), the Bar Association of the Court of Cassation (www.avocass.be), the French Bar Association of Brussels (www.barreaudebruxelles.be) or the Dutch Bar Association of Brussels (www.baliebrussel.be), depending on the lawyer concerned. Additional information on the professional rules under which we practise can be obtained from these associations.
Any difficulty relating to compliance with our code of ethics may result in a complaint being lodged with the President of the Bar of which the lawyer handling your case is a member. In the event of your objecting to our fees, conciliation, mediation and arbitration procedures may also be initiated by the relevant Bar Association. Information on these matters can be obtained from the aforementioned websites.
8.2. Identification requirements
Like other professional service providers, we are subject to strict requirements to identify our clients under the legal provisions relating to the fight against money laundering and the financing of terrorism. We require to ask you to keep information and documentation available for these purposes and/or to conduct searches in the relevant databases.
If your identity cannot be established satisfactorily, we are not permitted to commence acting and are required to interrupt our services if work has started. If we consult notaries public or correspondent lawyers on your behalf, we may, at their request, have to pass over such information so as to comply with similar procedures which are also incumbent on them. You expressly authorize us to pass over such information.
8.3. Nature of the advice provided
The sole purpose of our engagement is to provide assistance in relation to litigation as well as legal, and where required, fiscal advice. It is not our role to advise you on the advantages and disadvantages of an investment transaction, and our advice should not be construed as an invitation or encouragement to take a given investment decision
9. Scope of liability
9.1. Limitation of liability and acts of God
The liability of S-Team lawyers for any damage, loss or costs incurred by you in relation to our services is limited to the amount of our insurance coverage as set out in Article 9.2.
We shall under no circumstances be liable to any third party.
Where persons other than us are liable for work on a case in respect of which a professional liability claim is raised (whether joint and several liability or otherwise), our liability will be limited to our prorated share of the aggregate liability in respect of which the claim is raised.
Furthermore, in such a case, our prorated share of liability to you will not be increased pursuant to:
– any agreement between you and another liable party, limiting or excluding the latter’s liability;
– your being unable to recover any outstanding sum from that or any other person.
If, in spite of the foregoing, our alleged liability exceeds our prorated share in the said aggregate liability and if we have a right of action against another party and that right is reduced owing to an agreement by and between you and that party, our liability to you shall be reduced accordingly, to the extent legally permissible.
The foregoing provisions shall continue to apply after termination of our engagement.
9.2. Our liability insurance
Our professional third-party liability is covered by a primary policy with the company selected by the French and German-Speaking Bar Association referred to in section 8.1, which is currently Ethias Droit commun, having its registered office at 24 Rue des Croisiers, 4000 Liège. The insured amount is €1,250,000 per claim for all types of damage. The geographical insurance cover is worldwide, with the exception of liability cases that fall under the laws or jurisdictions of the United States of America and Canada.
10. Termination of relations
Either party may terminate the engagement by serving relevant written notice on the other party.
In any event, you shall remain liable for payment of our fees, expenses and disbursements until the date on which we cease to act as your counsel.
11. Scope of the agreement
These general terms and conditions replace any prior agreement. Unless otherwise agreed, these general terms and conditions constitute all our agreements concerning the terms of our engagement. They govern the entire relations between you and us.
Any request for services from the S-Team lawyers made by you after you have been informed of our general terms and conditions and any amendments shall constitute constructive acceptance of these general terms and conditions and such amendments.
13. Applicable law and jurisdiction
These general terms and conditions and their interpretation and application are governed by Belgian law. They shall take precedence over any other general terms and conditions of the client, unless otherwise agreed.
Unless otherwise provided by law, any and all disputes relating to our services shall be referred to the competent courts of Brussels.