Brexit drives Brussels firm Van Bael & Bellis to launch in London

Alex Stratakis and David Hull

Alex Stratakis (left) and David Hull: help lead the charge in London

Top trading and competition practices for the opening of the Chancery Lane office in September

The heavy Brussels EU cartel and trade specialist Van Bael & Bellis (VBB) opens in response to the Brexit in London.

The office on Chancery Lane is managed by partners David Hull and Philippe De Baere, who work with Baker McKenzie's former attorney, Alex Stratakis, who has worked as a resident partner in the company for two years since 2005.

With the exception of Liedekerke Wolters Waelbroeck Kirkpatrick, which opened in London in 2007, few Belgian companies have felt the need to be physically present in the British capital given the quality of their transport links with Brussels.

VBB markets itself as a specialist transfer target for Asian and US law firms looking for EU advice for its clients, and offers the possibility of British law through its London branch, which is due to open in September.

The 70-member law firm said a number of factors related to Brexit were responsible for its decision to open only its third office. In addition to its Brussels headquarters, which opened in 1986, it also has an arm in Geneva, home of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

"Companies will increasingly need advice on the impact of the UK's exit from the EU and how to mitigate the negative impact on their supply chains," said De Baere, a trading specialist with more than 30 years of experience.

He said the UK will be more stringent in foreign direct investment and national security clearance, which is likely to affect the company's Chinese customer base.

And he added that VBB is also well placed to advise the UK as it is directly involved as a party in the WTO dispute settlement process in Geneva.

VBB's work in the area of ​​competition law and in particular litigation before the European courts enables it to take advantage of the expected deviation of the United Kingdom from EU legislation, particularly with regard to state aid.

Hull came from Covington & Burling in 2014, where he was head of antitrust law, and is one of several UK lawyers at VBB.

He said: “After Brexit, the UK competition and market surveillance agency and the Aid Directorate are likely to address issues such as complex merger control assessments, anti-trust investigations and trade disputes.

"For competition to work, companies need to meet both EU and UK regulatory requirements, which is particularly important for mergers."

The new office is announced as trade talks between UK and EU negotiators will intensify after Britain's exit from the European Union in January 2020. Should an agreement not be agreed, the UK would trade with the EU through the World Trade Organization (WTO) conditions – with significant economic repercussions for companies and related disputes.

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(tagsToTranslate) competition law (t) commercial law (t) Belgian law firm (t) EU law

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