The tax department of Allen & Overy is headed up by M&A specialist Patrick Smet. The team has a focus on tax risk management and general tax advice. As a large international firm, it is particularly active in M&A deals and advises on the tax aspects of transactions. The firm also supports clients in controversies which in the last year have included supporting a company in a criminal tax investigation and representing another client at the ECJ.
In the last year, partner Patrick Smet, supported by senior associate Isabelle Panis and associate Sara Husain, represented Accent Jobs in a criminal tax investigation. This is the only case, so far, that has been investigated by the criminal authorities following the LuxLeaks scandal and Smet and his team secured a quick settlement with the criminal authorities and anti-fraud squad.
Another key partner at the firm is partner Derk Meeus who contributes to much of the firm’s high value transactions advice. Last year he advised on the sale of a stake in a media group and on general corporate tax issues for the company Balta.
International firm Baker McKenzie focuses on advising multinational companies and major Belgium companies on tax planning. The firm has a broad international network with expertise in the tax implications of cross-border transactions. It also has a team dedicated to transfer pricing. Géry Bombeke is one of the transfer pricing specialists, assisting clients with planning, implementation and documentation.
Last year partner Luc Meeus advised the management of the sale of the Bureau van Dijk group. This was a complex high value transaction involving a number of jurisdictions. The firm has also been active in tax controversies defending clients before the Court of Appeal of Antwerp and Court of Appeal of Brussels.
In April 2018 the firm hired senior associate Thomas Gernay. Before joining the firm Gernay was a tax lawyer for Tiberghien. Senior associate Evert Bleus left the firm in February of the same year.
The EMEIA Tax Center at EY is organised as a supranational entity covering the entire Europe, Middle East, India and Africa (EMEIA) region, with its Intercompany Effectiveness and operational transfer pricing practice serving clients’ needs across all jurisdictions.
Led by Oslo-based partner Sveinung Baumann-Larsen, it brings together multi-disciplinary experience and resources focused on IT, accounting, and tax from the entire region in its work. This work covers some of the leading global companies in their respective fields and includes those involved in retail and consumer products, energy and pharmaceuticals, to name but a few.
Full-service Belgium firm Laga has a large tax practice with 50 tax lawyers. It is active in indirect tax, controversies and corporate tax matters. Danny Stas is managing partner at the firm and head of the tax advisory practice. He specialises in VAT and has particular expertise in real estate and financial transactions. As well as working with multinational companies, the practice has a wealth of experience providing tax advice for private individuals.
The firm has been very active in indirect tax work over the last year. Earlier this year, partners Danny Stas and Annick Visschers, and lawyer at the firm Filip Smet, represented an online gaming company before the constitutional court challenging the VAT on games. Additionally, Partner Annick Visschers and lawyer Alexander Baert are currently representing the administrators of a Cypriotic company involved in a scam with brand clothing in a potentially landmark tax controversy.
“Very good. In particular, they were very responsive and assisted us in a very pragmatic way enabling us to finish a business deal.”
Liedekerke Wolters Waelbroeck Kirkpatrick is a full-service firm acclaimed for its work in tax. It is particularly prominent in tax litigation and advocates before the tax authorities, the Belgian courts and the CJEU. Partner Daniel Garabedian specialises in tax litigation for large corporations and had a major victory in a transfer pricing litigation in the last year. The firm also advises on the tax aspects of large real estate transactions in the Belgian market and is investing in its private client sector.
In the last year the firm has been particularly active in tax controversies. Garabedian and Jean-Michel Degée were involved in a high value case against the Belgium tax authorities concerning the residence of an international telecom group. The case went in their favour and resulted in a milestone judgement on tax residence.
The firm has made a number of tax hires and promotions in last year. Pierre Desenfans was promoted to partner in January 2018. He specialises in real estate taxation. Steven Peeters was promoted to of counsel in January of this year and he will focus on transactional tax matters. In February 2018 An Weyn was appointed to of counsel and will be working with private clients. She will bring her 15 years of experience in wealth planning to the team.
Loyens & Loeff offers expertise in tax consulting, compliance and litigation. The firm has teams in indirect tax, transactions, litigation and private wealth. It also has a transfer pricing team, led by Natalie Reypens, that deals with compliance, documentation and interaction with other tax issues.
Partner Christian Chéruy and senior associate Jérôme Wauthier acted as tax and legal counsel in the CTH acquisition of the Ferrara Candy Company and Nestlé US last year. Partner Nicolas Bertrand and associate Aldo Engels assisted a large international retail group with the restructuring of its intragroup financing. In this restructuring they used certain new transfer pricing methodologies for the first time in Belgium. The indirect tax team has also been active with partner Bert Gevers assisting an international company in a large investigation into international VAT fraud.
Former EY international tax services and transaction tax manager Linda Brosens joined the team in September 2017 as a professional support lawyer for international services. Of counsel tax specialist Camille Lebègue left the firm in July 2017 after 40 years at the firm.
“Highly responsive and always straight to the point. Very accurate with a huge knowledge base.”
The team at PwC Legal - formerly Law Square - has a leading team of highly qualified professionals handling all aspects of direct and indirect tax controversy at a national and international level. The team is made-up of 17 lawyers that are solely focused on disputes. Partner Ine Lejeune leads the tax policy and litigation team. Lejeune is an ITR-recognised practitioner and participated in the drafting of VAT legislation in the Gulf Region.
In the last 12 months Lejeune and senior counsel Véronique De Brabanter assisted the Belgian State in judicial proceedings that were initiated by several claimants and brought before the Constitutional Court.
Senior managing associate, Charlène Herbain, was hired earlier this year and Karolien Vandenberghe joined the team as a senior managing associate in 2017. Vandenberghe was at Philippe & Partners before joining Law Square.
Earlier this year director Philippe Renier left the firm.
The tax practice at Stibbe covers a range of Belgian and international taxation matters. It is specialised in M&A and real estate transactions, financial services, and transfer pricing issues. Wim Panis is head of tax at the firm and focuses on international tax law, covering corporate taxation, VAT, registration tax and tax litigation.
Last year Panis and real estate partner Rudy Nauwelaerts led the team in assisting the largest real estate transaction in the Belgian market. It supported many major companies on complex tax issues for this project. Currently it is defending a client before the European Commission regarding the Belgian income tax regime for seaports regarding state aid. The Stibbe team has now lodged a case before the CJEU regarding this matter.
In 2017 partner Gillot Xavier left the firm and joined uLaw.
Tiberghien is a boutique firm that specialises in tax and family law. With more than 90 lawyers it is the largest independent tax practice at the Belgian Bar. The firm offers legal and tax advice, negotiation, mediation and litigation services. In 2018 counsels Claudine Bodeux, Robin Minjauw and Griet Vandenabeele were promoted to partner at the firm.
Last year the team acted as tax and accounting advisor for due diligence work in Belgium and the Netherlands for a large client. The team is also currently advising a consortium on complex international tax issues.
Bruno Cardoen joined as partner in 2017. Before joining the firm Cardoen was a partner at Dauginet. Senior associate Vincent Vercauteren also joined the firm from Dauginet in 2017. Dirk Coveliers joined the firm as a senior associate in September 2017.