Gil Robles - San Bartolome & Associés
Avocats - Advocaten - Abogados


 Frequently Asked Questions

 1) What is the cost of the first consultation?

- In principle, application of hourly rate; unless specific exceptions according to the complexity of the case.

 2) Are there costs other than the lawyer’s costs and fees?

- Yes, there are costs for the court clerk, bailiff, experts or other real costs that must be distinguished from provisions on fees. These costs are recoverable if the proceedings succeed.

 3) If a trial is lost, must the fees of the opposing lawyer be paid?

- Claimability of lawyers’ costs and fees is governed by the law of 21 April 2007 (Mon. b., 31 May 2007, p. 29541). A royal decree of 26 October 2007 fixed, on 1st January 2008, the increased amount of compensation for proceedings and brought into force articles 1 to 13 of the law of 21 April 2007 (Mon. b., 9 November 2007, p. 56834). In sum, this law allows for the succumbing party to be ordered to pay compensation for proceedings that are higher than in the past. It is collected as an all-inclusive intervention in the costs and fees of the lawyer of the party whose case comes to a successful conclusion.

 4) Is the presence of the person involved in a trial required during proceedings?

- If criminal proceedings or proceedings involving family law are involved, presence is either required or desirable. For civil and commercial proceedings, the person involved in the trial can be represented perfectly well by his or her lawyer.

 5) What is the average amount of time for scheduling a hearing after a summons has been served?

- According to the court where the case is to be heard, the average minimum time is around three weeks. This period of time may be reduced in case of summary jurisdiction and procedure in matters of special urgency. Unfortunately, the period is longer in proceedings before some courts which are particularly crowded such as the Juvenile Court.

 6) What language will be used during the proceedings?

- If a civil suit is being tried involving a person domiciled in Flanders, Dutch will be spoken; if a person domiciled in Wallonia is involved, French will be spoken; if a person domiciled in a bilingual region is concerned, proceedings can be instituted in one or the other of the national languages. A defendant residing in a bilingual area will be entitled to request that the language for the proceedings be changed.

 7) What is the court’s place of competence?

- In the area of family law, the court’s competence will be determined by the last conjugal domicile of the spouses or by the place of residence of the child for proceedings before the Juvenile Court or proceedings involving any rights or obligations with regard to children. In civil cases, competence will be determined according to the domicile of the defendant. In commercial matters, the general conditions accepted between the parties can depart from this principle.

 8) Does territorial competence apply for lawyers?

- A lawyer registered with any Belgian Bar is entitled to plea anywhere on Belgian soil. For any writ concerning proceedings, the services of a local bailiff must be called on.

 9) Can a Belgian lawyer intervene abroad?

- A number of foreign bar associations such as the Paris Bar have signed cooperation agreements with the Belgian Bars making it possible for a Belgian lawyer to plea before jurisdictions coming within their competence. In other cases, the Belgian lawyer will act as counsel and see to it that he is assisted by a local lawyer.
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