Services, Terms & Fees
Structure of SQ-WATT Legal
SQ-WATT Legal is a grouping (groepering – groupement) of lawyers without legal personhood registered at the French and the Dutch speaking Brussels Bar , each lawyer having his independent practice and independent financial structure and clients.
The individual contractual relation between each lawyer and his/ her client is represented by the invoicing towards that client by his lawyer. SQ-WATT Legal as such cannot be held liable towards any client of any lawyer. No individual lawyer of SQ-WATT Legal can he held liable for any intervention of any another lawyer of SQ-WATT Legal unless this other lawyer of SQ-WATT Legal actively intervened for that client and consequently billed his or her interventions to that client accordingly.
Geert Lenssens organizes his services through his company BV Lenssens KBO 0819.391.464 Atlantis Building | 584 Charles Quint Avenue | 1082 BRUSSELS and Laurent Arnauts organizes his services through his company
Rates at SQ-WATT Legal
1 – THE COSTS OF THE LAWYER
The back office costs of the lawyer are the fixed general expenses for office operations and they are calculated on 20 % of the fees plus VAT. All external costs such as bailiffs and experts, also called litigation expenses (see sub 2) are being excluded.
2 – THE LITIGATION EXPENSES
The litigation expenses are the expenses that the client must pay to third parties such as process servers, the experts , the office of the court, translators and public authorities. The client pays these expenses directly to these third parties. If the lawyer pays litigation expenses on the client’s behalf, these will be listed accurately and in detail in the fee and cost statement.
3 – THE LAWYER’S FEE
The lawyer’s fee is the remuneration for services rendered by the lawyer or his staff.
In principle, it is fixed orally or by writing at the start of the cooperation in which way the fee will be charged and the rate is always confirmed in the invoice and/or the time sheet.
One either agrees on an hourly rate or on a fixed amount agreed upon for a specific task, procedure or a specific part of a procedure. One can also agree on an additional success fee on the hourly fee in case of a positive result. A lump sum is possible e.g. for the review of a contract or for a due diligence. As the lawyer cannot predict all interventions in litigation nor the time needed or the result, it is impossible to assess the time needed and the result. However if the lawyer makes an estimation , this estimation never will be binding as such.
For establishing the hourly rate or the lump sum, the significance of the case, the experience and specialty of the lawyer, the urgency and the financial position of the client are taken into account. Regular clients with at least five new cases on a yearly base also can benefit on request of a Client Reward Program (CRP) meaning that special lower rates can apply.
In general, services and performances are charged at an hourly rate between 150 EUR and 480 EUR, exclusive of VAT (21%), unless it is agreed upon or established otherwise. The nature of a file can be decisive to establish a fixed amount, a percentage (e.g. for debt collections) or a success fee.
The fee can be incremental depending on the level of difficulty of the actual services rendered and the experience of the lawyer or a flat-line, uniform rate can be applied as an average value for all services to be rendered. All time needed for research, study, strategy and all time needed directly or indirectly for the case will be billed. All time needed for transport and travelling is consistently charged at the hourly rate because the lawyer is indeed active in this file at that moment and this time must be remunerated as well, the compensation, if any, being incorporated in the hourly rate itself.
4 – THE AMOUNTS REGARDING THE PROCEDURAL COSTS
In Belgium a party winning a process is entitled to recover (part of) the fee and costs of his lawyer from the party losing the process (= ‘recoverability of fees’).
This concerns a fixed compensation, the exact amount of which is established by the judge.
The amounts regarding the procedural costs, both the basic amount and the minimum and maximum amount, are established by law. More information can be found on: www.advocaat.be.
In principle, the judge awards the basic amount. If at least one of the parties so asks, the judge may, based on 4 grounds listed in the above-mentioned decree, lower or raise the basic amount within the limits of the minimum and maximum amount. If the judge decides to increase or lower the basic amount, he must motivate this.
5 – GENERAL CONDITIONS
The general conditions remain in full force in relation to the rates SQ-WATT Legal and in case of conflict the general conditions will prevail.
Terms and Conditions
Unless prior written agreement, all bills, invoices and notes shall be due and payable within eight days. All payments shall be made with the mandatory indication of the file number and the note number. The sum due shall be paid at the initiative of the debtor regardless the possibility of the creditor – lawyer to enforce payment legally.
The prescription period to file a professional liability legal action before the courts against the lawyer shall be conventionally limited and determined at two years following the last intervention of the lawyer and three years after the facts on which the claim has been based, without the possibility that the latter time limit exceeds the first.
In case of any dispute between the attorney and the client, only the Dutch speaking chambers of the Brussels’ courts shall be competent. In any case of late payment, an interest of 12 % per annum shall automatically be due. The interest is due starting from the due payment date until the date of full payment. In addition, a lump sum compensation of 10 % of the total amount shall be due, with a minimum of EUR 450, and it is subject to the provision of proof of more extensive losses. This 10 % compensation clause applies to all agreements between clients and lawyers, but only mutually in both directions between lawyers and consumers.
Any protest and or complaint relating to a provision request or statement of fees and charges or relating to liability, shall, on pain of forfeiture, be duly motivated and made in writing. The protest and/ or complaint shall, subject to forfeiture, be made within 8 days upon receipt or knowledge of facts possibly leading to liability and be made by registered mail. The liability of the lawyer is at all times limited to the sum covered by the professional liability insurance.
The Client expressively waives any and all claims exceeding the coverage of the professional liability insurance and also in any case any form of indirect damage. In addition, any liability shall be expressly limited to the lawyer -titular of the file. All fees and charges shall be subject to VAT. The expenses are to be added to the fees, even to the conventional and the lump sums ones and without the lawyer having to provide any further proof.
The fees shall be calculated separately and invoiced in an amount of 20% of the amount of benefits and fees. If the fees, benefits and expenses included in the interim invoice are incomplete, we reserve the right to complete them later. The invoice and the always accompanying time sheet, mentions and proves the hourly rate agreed upon by lawyer and client. In case the client has an insurance for legal assistance, client and lawyer agree that the maxima provided by the Royal Decree of 28 th of June 2019 are not applicable and the client will pay all exceeding fees and costs to the lawyer.
The lawyer and the client expressly agree that the client is prohibited to make any audio or video recording of the contact between the lawyer and the client including telephone conversations, interviews, consultations and discussions and/or in addition of pleadings. The client expressly confirms the lack of legal probative value of any of such recordings.
If all the above mentioned conditions are contrary to any provision of mandatory law, then the provisions of mandatory law shall replace any contradictory provision without affecting the validity of this agreement or of the other provisions.