1. The firm and its partners
Tetra Law is incorporated as a non-commercial company incorporated under Belgian law that has adopted the form of a limited cooperative society and whose objects are to practise the profession of legal advocacy. Its registered office is at Avenue Louise 240/3, 1050 Brussels. Tetra Law is entered at the central register of entities under the number 0841.890.120.
A list of partners is available on request. The attorneys practising within the Firm are entered either at the French Order of Attorneys of the Brussels Bar or at the Dutch Order of Attorneys of the Brussels Bar.
These general terms and conditions apply to all engagements that are accepted by Tetra Law including any follow-up engagements and new engagements. Clients instructing Tetra Law will be deemed to agree to be bound by these general terms and conditions with respect to that case and all subsequent cases, subject to any change (of which clients are duly informed). If the general terms and conditions are only notified to a client after a case has been entrusted to Tetra Law, they are deemed to agree to be bound if the case is not withdrawn once the general terms and conditions have been notified.
If there are contradictions among the French, Dutch and English-language versions, the French will prevail. These general terms and conditions are liable to change and can be viewed online at www.tetralaw.com.
Without prejudice to the terms of clause 3, below, these general terms and conditions apply not only to Tetra Law but to any party involved in performing the engagement entrusted to Tetra Law or who might be liable on any ground by dint of said engagement, as well as to universal successors in title.
3. The performance of engagements
All engagements are accepted and carried out exclusively by Tetra Law, even where clients expressly or tacitly entrust engagements to a person related to Tetra Law. A related person is any past or present attorney and/or partner of Tetra Law.
Tetra Law assumes exclusive responsibility for the services rendered by its partners, associates and staff. No party other than Tetra Law assumes any obligation vis-à-vis any client or any other party with respect to the services rendered by Tetra Law. You agree that you will litigate against no party other than Tetra Law relative to services rendered by it.
4. Scope of liability
Barring any provision of law to the contrary, Tetra Law’s liability is limited to the amount of cover under the professional indemnity insurance that has been contracted by Tetra Law.
Our professional third-party liability is covered by a primary policy with Ethias, a public limited company under the laws of Belgium with its registered offices at 4000 Liège, Rue des Croisiers 24. The insured amount is EUR 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.
Our professional third-party liability is covered by a second-ranking policy taken out with Ethias, mentioned above, and AIG Europe, a limited company incorporated under the laws of England with a branch at 1050 Brussels, Boulevard de la Plaine 11. This policy comprises additional cover of EUR 2,500,000 per claim, once the primary policy has been exhausted. 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.
Our professional third-party liability is covered by a third-ranking policy taken out with HDI-Gerling Assurances, a public limited company incorporated under the laws of Belgium with its registered offices at 1150 Brussels, Avenue de Tervueren 273, and AIG Europe, mentioned above. This policy comprises additional cover of EUR 7,500,000 per claim, once the primary and second-ranking policies have been exhausted. 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.
Our professional third-party liability is covered by a fourth-ranking policy taken out with AIG Europe and HDI-Gerling Assurances, mentioned above. This policy comprises additional cover of EUR 10,000,000 per claim, once the primary, second-ranking and third-ranking policies have been exhausted. 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.
If requested in writing, Tetra Law can contract additional insurance for individual cases. The premiums are then charged to the client.
The right to claim indemnification extinguishes if Tetra Law is not given written notice within one year that there has been discovered an event or situation giving rise or potentially giving rise to liability on Tetra Law’s part.
5. Third-party intervention
Tetra Law has authority to engage the services of third parties in the context of performing its activities. Such third parties are selected with all requisite care. Acts and omissions by third parties will in no event render Tetra Law liable. Tetra Law is authorised by clients to agree on their behalf to such limitations of liability as third parties may impose.
6. Trust account
Funds held by Tetra Law for clients are deposited in a trust account opened with a financial institution of Tetra Law’s choice. Tetra Law will not be liable if the financial institution with which the funds are deposited or any other institution involved in transferring funds should go into insolvency or for any other act of negligence on the part of financial institutions. Tetra Law is under no obligation to reimburse clients any funds that such financial institutions are unable to repay or transfer.
7. Party in whose favour counsel is given
All counsel given by Tetra Law is covered by professional confidentiality and is intended solely for the clients’ exclusive benefit. All counsel is issued solely in the context of the case in question. No third party may use or found on such counsel. Clients must, unless they have prior written agreement, refrain from disclosing counsel rendered by Tetra Law to any third party other than other professional advisers. Disclosure to other professional advisers does not in any way create any commitment or liability toward them on Tetra Law’s part. In a general vein, Tetra Law only bears obligations towards its client and not towards third parties other than where Tetra Law expressly accepts such liability in writing.
Tetra Law reserves the right to confidentially divulge to the press its involvement on behalf of a client in a given settlement or court proceeding. This information may be divulged non-confidentially if clients give prior, written consent for us to do so or if Tetra Law’s involvement has become a matter of public knowledge.
8. Conflicts of interests
The professional rules to which Tetra Law is subject permit it to accept cases for other clients whose business competes or might potentially compete with the client in contemplation, subject always to considerations of professional confidentiality. Tetra Law might also agree to represent other clients whose activities are athwart of those of a client in areas on which they do not regular consult Tetra Law.
9. Third-party claims
The contract or relationship between Tetra Law and a client does not cause any rights to inure to third parties.
Other than in cases of gross negligence or a wilful act or omission on the part of Tetra Law, clients shall indemnify Tetra Law and its related persons against any claim raised by a third party and directly or indirectly resulting from or linked to the engagement entrusted by the client to Tetra Law or to services rendered in the context of that engagement.
Fees are fundamentally calculated on the basis of the number of hours worked, multiplied by the hourly rates set and from time to time adjusted by Tetra Law. In some cases, the basis for calculating fees may be specially agreed with the client in the form of a blended rate or fixed charge. Success fees are also possible, particularly in relation to litigation.
Costs and outlays paid by Tetra Law on a client’s behalf are calculated separately and rebilled at cost. General overheads including postage, telephone, photocopies, etc., are charged at a fixed percentage of the legal fee.
On top of fees, travel is charged for journeys outside Brussels and stays outside Belgium, as are court fees and exceptional or special costs such as translation, loss-assessors’ reports, consulting outside professionals, setting up a data room, etc.
All amounts are quoted exclusive of VAT, and without any other similar tax, supplement or increase, which will require to be paid by the client, payer or Tetra Law on the basis of applicable regulations or have to be borne by Tetra Law.
Services are as a rule billed periodically. Clients may be asked to pay an advance. Invoices are payable within 30 days of tax point. Failure to make payment of an invoice when due will, without prior warning, automatically trigger a charge of interest at the legal rate on commercial transactions starting as of the due date. A sum set at 15 per cent of the invoice amount is also due as liquidated damages subject to a minimum of 500 euros and capped at 12,500 euros, without, prejudice to our right to claim compensation in such greater sum as might be sustained in terms of losses and costs incurred.
Tetra Law is under a duty to keep records of files once they are closed. Original documents entrusted to Tetra Law are returned to clients before archiving. Records are kept for ten years, tops, after which they are destroyed.
12. Data protection
Tetra Law is careful to protect its clients’ and third parties’ privacy when performing its engagement duties and takes care to ensure the confidentiality of the information data passed to it or to which it has access. Where private data is processed, it is done in compliance with the Privacy (Processing of Personal Data) Act of 8 December 1992, as well as the Regulation nr 2016/679 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 April 2016 on the protection of natural persons with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data, and repealing Directive 95/46/EC (“General Data Protection Regulation” or GDPR). Tetra Law is the controller in this respect. Terms referred to in this clause carry the meanings and interpretations relative to data processing as are contained in Belgium’s said Act of 8 December 1992 or any amendments that have been made to it since its enactment. The aims pursued when processing such information are:
- to manage and process case files in relation to the engagements entrusted to Tetra Law;
- to manage risks and assess their nature;
- client administration and managing contacts;
- information and promotional material that is distributed among the clients of Tetra Law (e.g. newsletters that contain a range of items such as legislation updates or conference invitations), where Tetra Law believes it could be of relevance to the people it is sent to;
- adherence to the statutory and regulatory requirements incumbent on Tetra Law, above all in relation to health and safety, and combating money-laundering.
Data is not placed in the hands of outside parties except in order to perform an engagement for which Tetra Law is being instructed or to fulfil a statutory or regulatory requirement. By merely handing over data, clients authorise Tetra Law t process it for the aforementioned purposes.
Tetra Law assures its clients that it has appropriate technical and organisational measures in place to protect the information given to it from unauthorised or from unlawful processing and against any accidental loss, destruction or corruption of the relevant data. Where data is communicated by clients or at their request, they implicitly warrant that they do so with the consent of the persons concerned and in accordance with relevant law. Clients will require to indemnify Tetra against any claims by the persons in question, who shall at all times be entitled to access and request rectification of the data of concern to them and may object to that data being processed for the purposes of promoting Tetra Law’s services. These rights can be exercised by sending a dated, signed, written request to one of Tetra Law's partner, at Avenue Louise 240/3, 1050 Brussels, either by regular post or by e-mail to email@example.com, to which the writer must attach a photocopy of their identity card. Questions on data protection and data processing by Tetra Law can also be sent to the following addresses
13. Client identification
Tetra Law has a duty under the law and under its bar rules to properly identify and verify the identity of its clients and of beneficial owners (who are private individuals owning over 25 per cent of a client or who control it in some way or on behalf of those for whom the prospective transaction is intended to take place. It requires to be permanently vigilant for indications that could suggest money laundering and the financing of terrorism, and to report any incidents to the chairman of the bar, who may then forward the facts to the Financial Information Processing Unit.
In this respect, clients have to send the following information and documents to Tetra Law:
- Documentary evidence of a client’s identity and home address where they are a private individual;
- The corporate constitution and make-up of its management where the client is a legal entity;
- Documents to prove the address and identity of the client’s representatives;
- Information proving the identity and home address of the relevant beneficial owners, including any documents of identity of theirs including later changes in any information contained in them.
Furthermore, additional information and documentation are needed concerning clients and beneficial owners who occupy certain categories of public office (politically exposed persons) or that have economic or family links to such individuals.
Tetra Law is also entitled to demand and be sent information on contemplated transactions and their context so that it can comply with its vigilance duty. Documents needed for this purpose are specifically requested on an ad hoc basis by Tetra Law. If such information or documentation is not sent to Tetra Law within a fortnight of them being requested, Tetra Law can terminate its engagement or turn it down, and no compensation claim shall lie to the client in such event.
Data gathered by Tetra Law is stored by Tetra Law in hard or soft copy for a period of no less than ten years and is covered by Tetra Law’s professional confidentiality, albeit without prejudice to Tetra Law’s reporting obligations to the bar chairman where it has suspicions of money-laundering or the financing of terrorism.
14. Respect for ethical rules
Tetra Law commits to uphold the codes of conduct laid down by the bar associations on whose rolls its attorneys are entered. You can get further information on these codes of conduct from the two sections of the bar (or ‘orders’):
- the French Order of Attorneys of the Brussels Bar (www.barreaudebruxelles.be); and
- the Dutch Order of Attorneys of the Brussels Bar (www.baliebrussel.be).
Any disagreement on whether we have adhered to our ethical obligations may be reported to the chairman of the bar where the attorney dealing with the matter in question is entered. If there is a dispute on the fees charged by Tetra Law, the relevant bar sections have also set up reconciliation, mediation and arbitration procedures. All such information can be obtained from the websites of the bar sections referred to above.
15. Bringing relations to a close
Either party may terminate the relations to which these general terms and conditions apply by notifying the other party of its decision to do so in writing. In all events, clients continue to be liable to pay fees, costs and outlays up until the last day on which Tetra Law renders services for the client.
16. The scope of our agreement
These general terms and conditions supersede any prior agreement and, unless it shall be agreed otherwise, they constitute the entire agreement between Tetra Law and its client regarding the terms of Tetra Law’s engagement and govern the entire relations between the parties.
17. Governing law
The business relationship between the client and Tetra Law is subject solely to Belgian law, with the exception of rules of private international law. Any litigation is to be raised before the relevant court within the judicial district of Brussels.