DHK is with 21 lawyers a medium-sized law firm in the Euregion with branch offices in Aachen (D), Liège (B) and Sittard (NL). The German-Belgian Desk of our firm advises businesses on legal issues relating to foreign trade in Belgium and Germany.
With approximately 11 million inhabitants, Belgium is Germany’s ninth largest trading partner. The volume of trade between both countries in 2012 was € 83 billion, with German exports to Belgium (€ 44.6 billion) surpassing imports from Belgium (€ 38.4 billion). Both countries are important sales markets for each other. Businesses from both countries have a strong presence on the German and Belgian market.
Our services include providing advice on shaping the market presence abroad, either by means of international commercial and service contracts or through authorised dealers or commercial agents. This not only involves drafting the exchange contracts taking into consideration the practices of international commercial law, but also protecting the market position by means of commercial property rights, in particular by means of brands and licences in the respective foreign market. This is especially important in the case of franchising and direct marketing.
A sustainable presence in the respective foreign market can also be achieved by means of a non-independent branch office in the form of a place of business of the enterprise or by means of an independent branch office through the establishment or acquisition of a company in the respective target market, usually taking the legal form of a private company with limited liability or a public limited company. We provide support in this regard, as the project manager, not only by drafting the contracts but also by assisting businesses in choosing a suitable location, buying or renting real estate, hiring staff etc.
We also have extensive experience in the field of internet-based distance selling and international mail order selling. In drawing up the general terms and conditions for international business, the rules of international law must be adhered to.
While our office is a full-service provider in the field of German law, in Belgium we can rely on an extensive network of excellent service providers (notaries, tax consultants, accountants, social secretariats, real estate brokers), with whom we have successfully collaborated for more than ten years. This is also true of the collaboration with a select network of Belgian lawyers, for specialisation in German-Belgian law does not mean that we have the ambition to be active in every field of law. In the fields of labour and social law, tax law, tenancy law or administrative and economic criminal law, we consult, if necessary and in agreement with the client, Belgian specialists. However, in line with competent project management, we do so while acting as a coordinator and contact person for the interests of our clients.
Since we are licenced as lawyers in both Germany and Belgium, we can guarantee representation of our clients in court litigation in both countries, and notably nationwide before all courts of the first and second instance. The advantage for our clients is that they can instruct a firm that is not only proficient in German and Belgian civil procedure law, but that also has first-hand knowledge, based on own experience, of the conditions on the ground. Additionally, we are familiar with international private and civil procedure law, which, according to European law, is the key interface when it comes to legal matters involving foreign countries.
In this regard, in the event of a legal dispute, determining which court is competent and which law applies occurs in an open-minded fashion, for if one can initiate proceedings in both countries, one can develop procedural tactics tailored to the interests of the client. Litigation abroad can, in view of different case law, rules on evidence, costs or duration of the proceedings, definitely be advantageous.
The German-Belgian Desk is headed by Mr Guido Imfeld, LL.M. A specialist lawyer for commercial and company law as well as for commercial property rights, Mr Imfeld, LL.M., specialises in international economic law, especially German-Belgian economic and commercial law, a field in which he has been predominantly active since 1996. He works mainly from our Aachen location, but since 2000 he is also admitted as a lawyer in Belgium and is represented locally with an office of his own in Liège. Mr Imfeld, LL.M., lives in Belgium and, therefore, is familiar with the Belgian market, the peculiarities of Belgian law with respect to international distribution and – last but not least – the Belgian mentalities, in the plural since Flanders is not the same as Wallonia, and the German-speaking community has its own peculiarities. Therefore, it is absolutely essential that the lawyers of the German-Belgian Desk be proficient in Belgium’s three national languages, i.e. French, Dutch and German, but also in English, the most frequently chosen negotiation language between German and Belgian contracting parties.
We will gladly advise and assist you.
More information on German-Belgian and international law can be found in our publications and positions.