In order to assist you in the best and most efficient way possible and in order to guarantee full transparency, Praetica works on the basis of specific rules, laid down hereunder.
1. Establishment/conclusion and performance of mandate
1.1. Missions – Praetica can only be deemed to have been charged with a mandate or a complementary mandate after the explicit and written confirmation of a mandate request, explicitly accepted by Praetica and, if needed be, validated by the client itself.
In any event, and without prejudice to a derogation explicitly confirmed in writing and in advance by Praetica, a mandate will not take effect until the retainer on fees and disbursements has been paid in full.
1.2. Response times – Praetica respects the obligations of due care and communication expected from a lawyer. Furthermore, Praetica commits to reply to its clients’ queries within a term appropriate to the nature of these queries.
2. Liability and insurance
2.1. Praetica is covered by one (or several) professional liability insurance policy; the terms and conditions of this policy will be forwarded to Praetica’s clients upon their request. Praetica’s and its attorneys’ liability will be limited to the amount covered by the aforementioned policy.
2.2. The specificities of the insurance policies of every legal entity member of the Praetica network can be found on the website www.praetica.com.
3. Financial arrangements
3.1. Retainers – Any opened file will imply the payment of a retainer, in order to cover one month of interventions and disbursements. The amount of the retainer is payable as of the opening of the file and prior to the performance of any intervention; in the event of several files, handled for the same client, the retainer can either be linked to one or more specific files, or be fixed globally taking into account the volume of the files; the retainer can be reviewed, either increased or decreased, in the course of the performance of the attributed mandate.
3.2. Fees – Without prejudice to a specific arrangement, the fees will be calculated on the basis of the time dedicated to the file, by unities of 60 minutes (every unity that has been started is to be considered in the rate); this time will be charged at the rate agreed prior to the intervention or fixed at the time of the first invoicing. This rate will always be subject to an annual indexation on the 1st of January of every year (by comparing the consumer price index of the month of December of the year that ended and the month of December of the year preceding the year that ended) and can be reviewed by Praetica based on justified grounds with a notice period of three months; furthermore, the hourly rate is automatically adapted every year to take into consideration the seniority in the firm. Also, the fees can be increased with a success fee in files related to a claim, litigation, and/or negotiations.
3.3. Disbursements – Unless agreed otherwise in a convention reported at the latest at the time of the first monthly or periodic invoice, internal disbursements (telephone, copies, typing, mail, etc.) will not be charged; the external disbursements (bailiff, court registry, judicial experts, assistance by local correspondents at Belgian courts, transportation and accommodation costs, special deliveries, technical advice, etc.) will be invoiced at cost price.
The bailiff’s fees are directly invoiced to the client by the bailiff and according to their terms and conditions. The client alone is responsible for the payment of the sums due to the bailiff. The client is informed that the bailiff may require the payment of a provision, prior to its intervention.
The costs of the forensic expert and technical adviser will be paid directly by the client according to the terms and conditions of the concerned procedure or technical advice agreement.
3.4. Invoicing – Our interventions and external disbursements are invoiced on a monthly basis by sending an invoice with a detail of the interventions and disbursements, registered with Praetica at the date of the invoice. This invoice, that will include VAT subject to the applicable rate at the date of the issuance of the invoice, will be payable upon receipt.
In the event where the client has taken out legal defense insurance or can benefit from the intervention, total or partial, of a paying third party, the invoices nevertheless remain established under the name of the client who will have the faculty to ask for the intervention of his insurer or the paying agent. In any cases, the debtor of Praetica is and remains the client. The latter therefore remains liable for the payment of all or part of the fees and expenses that would not have been fully paid at the due date by his insurer or his third party payer.
3.5. Arrears – Any delay in payment of the invoices entitles Praetica to suspend the performance of the mandate until the situation is regularized. Any late payment of an invoice will automatically bear interests at the rate of 12% per year as of the date of the issuance of the invoice.
On pain of foreclosure, any dispute about a statement of fees and expenses must be sent to Praetica within 15 days of the date of the invoice by a letter specifically detailing the client’s grievances. Otherwise, the aforementioned statement will be presumed to be accepted by the client.
3.6. End of intervention – At the end of the file or of all files for which a retainer has been paid, this retainer shall be used to pay, where relevant partially, for the interventions and disbursements of the last month and, where relevant, the invoices that have not yet been settled as well as the success fee if any; the remainder, if any, of the retainer shall be reimbursed to the client, unless it can be used to compensate with sums due for one or more other files.
The client also authorise Praetica to deduct from any amount held at his request or on his behalf in a third party account any amount he owes to Praetica, even relating to another file. Praetica will make sure to operate these debit transparently, to immediately notify the client and to provide the client with clear statements.
4. Professional secrecy – obligation of identification – prevention of money laundering
4.1 The law of 18 September 2017 on the prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing and on the restriction of the use of cash requires Praetica to identify and verify the identity of its clients, their potential representatives as well as the effective economic beneficiaries of its corporate clients. Praetica is therefore required to request and keep a copy of the following documents:
- for natural persons (surname, first name, place and date of birth, address):
- valid identity card or valid passport or valid driving license or valid foreign registration certificate;
- and, where the client’s address is not mentioned in any of the documents mentioned above, any other document likely to demonstrate the client’s real address such as an electricity bill, gas bill, landline phone bill or bank statement.
- for legal persons, trusts, and similar legal arrangements:
- the BCE corporate identity (or foreign equivalent);
- the last coordinated statutes including the representative powers of the client (published on the Moniteur belge or from any other official source);
- the list of directors (published in the Moniteur belge, by the National Bank of Belgium or from any other official source) and the documents required to verify the identity of natural persons;
- the declaration containing the identity of the effective economical beneficiaries and the documents required for verifying the identity of natural persons. The beneficial owners are:
- persons on behalf of or for the benefit of whom a transaction is executed or a business relationship established;
- natural persons who exercise control over at least 25% of the shares, voting rights or property of the legal person.
For all other cases, Praetica refers to the table relating to the client identification requirements listed in the appendix to the regulation of the OBFG of 19 May 2008.
4.2 Praetica is also subject, for the duration of the relationship with its client, to a duty of care which implies to understand and enquire about the purpose and nature of the operation, the origin of funds and the consistency of these elements with the usual activities of our client.
4.3 When the nature of the file (assistance of the client in the preparation or execution of transactions such as the purchase or sale of real estate or commercial enterprises, management of funds of securities or other assets belonging to the clients or his representative; opening or managing bank accounts, savings accounts or portfolios; arranging the necessary contributions for the constitution, management or direction of companies; setting up, managing or directing trusts, companies or similar structures or interventions in the name and on behalf of the client in all financial and real estate transactions) or when the particular situations provided by the aforementioned law of 18 September 2017 (country of origin, identification difficulties, unusual relationship between the client and the lawyer or the nature of the operations, public personality or assimilated) impose on the lawyer an obligation of enhanced vigilance, the client undertakes to answer any question from the lawyer allowing him to comply with its legal obligations in the fight against money laundering and the financing of terrorism .
4.4 Failing to obtain the documents or information requested by Praetica as part of its duty of care within 15 days, Praetica may refuse the mission entrusted to it or, if the mission has already been entrusted to it, terminate its intervention.
4.5. In the event of suspicion of money laundering or terrorism financing, Praetica is obliged to make a declaration to the president of the bar of the lawyer who deals with the file; this president, guarantor of the respect of the professional secrecy, will determine if this information must be transmitted or not to the Cell of Processing of the financial information. This information should not be provided by the lawyer if it has been received during a legal defense or legal advice mission, whether the information is received or obtained before, during or after this procedure, unless Praetica fears that the procedure is only intended to cover a money laundering operation.
4.6. The data communicated to Praetica are subject to professional secrecy, without prejudice to the legal obligations of declaration in case of suspicion of money laundering.
5. Processing of personal data
5.1. Praetica’s processing of its clients’ personal data is carried out in compliance with the Regulation 2016/679 (GDPR).
5.2. Praetica uses the personal data of its clients:
- in order to comply with its legal, pre-contractual or contractual, obligations: to handle the files and requests for intervention of its client and for what is imposed in the field of money laundering;
- and in order to realize its legitimate interest while respecting the interest or the fundamental rights and freedoms of the concerned persons, for its operations of marketing and management of its file of client and persons interested in its related activities (conferences, newsletter, blogs etc.).
5.3 In accordance with the GDPR, it is stated that:
- the controller is the SPRL Praetica represented by one of its managers, the SPRL Serge Dufrene Avocat, having as permanent representative Mr. Serge Dufrene;
- that the recipients of the data are the internal collaborators (lawyers, employees and independent collaborators) and external collaborators (external collaborating lawyers, bailiffs, experts etc.) of Praetica insofar as these persons have the mission to intervene in the files or requests for intervention in question;
- that the personal data are kept:
- in the case referred to in the first point of 5.2: throughout the duration of the pre-contractual or contractual relationship plus the time necessary to reach the prescription of all rights, actions and remedies arising from this relationship;
- in the case referred to in the second point of 5.2: for one year after their last use, subject to the right of the persons concerned to obtain at their first request the withdrawal of their personal data;
- that the data processing by a provider of Praetica from a third country can intervene only if it has previously guaranteed its compliance with the GDPR;
- that any person whose personal data has been collected or processed by Praetica may upon request to the controller:
- take note of the personal data kept about him;
- modify or delete the personal data kept about him;
- be removed from distribution lists used to disseminate the above information;
- file a complaint with the supervisory authority
6. Digitized processing of data communications
6.1 Praetica is a dematerialized firm with the “Ecodynamic Enterprise” label issued by Bruxelles-Environnement. Clients who use Praetica agree that their communication with Praetica and the retention of their file data is done in an exclusively computerized and dematerialized manner; they waive the requirement to have their files saved in paper form, and the right that the correspondence and invoices are sent to them by post and / or paper delivery. Similarly, the release of the file will be carried out on USB stick support whose cost will be borne by the client.
6.2 Praetica has taken and continues to take all reasonable precautions to ensure the security of access to its electronic platform, as well as to ensure the retention of data on this platform. In the event that, despite the precautions taken, problems of access and / or conservation of the data should be noted, the responsibility of Praetica could be engaged only if it is established that it would have committed a fault that a normally prudent and diligent professional would not have committed in the same circumstances. In the event that Praetica’s liability is engaged, it will be limited to the amounts covered by its insurers and / or its providers in charge of the data protection on its electronic platform.
6.3 In the event that, following an agreement in writing between the customer and Praetica, a paper-based processing is necessary, the services intended to ensure the transfer on paper and / or the transfer to an electronic medium, the printing, the physical classification, filing, handling, transportation etc. will be billed to the client on the following basis:
- agreed hourly rate for legal services;
- hourly rate of 50 euros for secretarial duties;
- cost price for other expenses.
6.4 By way of exception to the foregoing, the client and Praetica may jointly note that for exceptional reasons, all or part of the file must be saved outside Praetica’s electronic platform. In this case, a specific agreement determines the modalities of communication between Praetica and its client, the way in which the data that constitute the file will be organised and the fate of these data after the end of the mandate of Praetica. This agreement will confirm that the additional costs related to these specific terms will be borne by the client and will specify as much as possible the amount of these costs.
7. Fin de l’intervention – résiliation
7.1 The client and Praetica may at any time terminate the mandate entrusted to Praetica by an e-mail clearly notifying this decision, clearly specifying the concerned file(s). In case of cancellation by the client, his email will indicate whether he will defend himself or if the file has to be transferred to another lawyer or intermediary whose identity and contact details should be mentioned.
7.2 Where Praetica’s assignment is part of a subscription, a public contract, a private contract or a regular succession of files, Praetica may benefit from a notice period of 2 months or an equivalent compensatory allowance.
7.3 Praetica will return or transmit the file as requested by the client under the conditions provided by Article 6 of these terms and conditions. This restitution or transmission will take place in accordance with the practices of the lawyer profession.
8.1. The relation between Praetica and its clients shall be governed exclusively by Belgian law.
8.2. Any dispute relating to a contestation of fees validly submitted by the client shall give rise to the mediation procedure provided for in Article 82 of the Rules of Procedure of the French Bar Association of Brussels. In case of failure, the dispute will be arbitrated in accordance with Article 83 of this Regulation.
Any other dispute will fall within the exclusive jurisdiction of the judicial courts, at the choice of Praetica, either of the place where is located the consulted office, or of the place where is located the office which issued the invoice. The same applies when the bar of the Praetica lawyer who is responsible for the disputed invoicing does not require a mediation procedure such as that referred to in the preceding paragraph.
9. Provisions applicable only to consumers
9.1 These conditions of intervention apply to consumers who use Praetica’s services, subject to the mandatory or public order provisions of the legal texts protecting the interests of consumers and subject to what follows.
9.2 When the contract is not concluded at the consulted office of Praetica, consumers have a period of 14 days from the conclusion of the contract to retract, by informing the lawyer responsible for the file of their decision under the conditions provided by Article 7 of these general conditions. The consumer who expressly requests that the handling of the file start before the completion of the 14 day period, acknowledges losing his right of withdrawal.
10. Provision of information on the website
The present general conditions as well as the legal information, specific to each legal entity of the Praetica network, can be consulted on our website www.praetica.com.
Sensitive to sustainable development, Praetica has implemented a R.S.E. charter which is accessible on the website www.praetica.com.
The language that will prevail is the one used in the relations between Praetica and the client.