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ERIC VAN HOOYDONK LAWYERS 

Emiel Banningstraat 21-25

BE-2000 Antwerp

Belgium

 

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NEWS

FEBRU 2014

Eric Van Hooydonk Lawyers keeps its clients and contacts informed with a free newsletter. Click here to receive it.

 

We also organize seminars about recent legal developments for our clients and contacts. You will also find news of these in our newsletter.

 

FREE NEWSLETTER AND SEMINARS

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Eric Van Hooydonk Lawyers is always available for a first exploratory meeting for which no charge is made. We will be happy to advise you on the best way to proceed further.

 

Phone + 32 (0)3 238 67 14 or send an email to info@ericvanhooydonk.be

On Thursday 16 October 2014, Eric Van Hooydonk Lawyers and legal publishers Maklu are organizing a study afternoon on parking fees. At the same time there will be a presentation of a legal handbook about parking fees in which all the legal aspects of parking will be discussed in an accessible and authoritative manner. It is the first time that a legal handbook has been devoted to the parking sector. The authors, Eric Van Hooydonk and Björn Cloots have long been pioneers in all the legal aspects of parking. They advised on the establishment of the first autonomous municipal parking company in Belgium, drafted the first Flemish parking concession and have supervised innovative PPS projects for the construction of private car parks, assisted with the drafting of new legal texts, and have handled disputes concerning the basic principles before numerous judicial instances. Follow the link to register and order.

NOTE THIS DATE! 16 OCTOBER 2014, BOOK PRESENTATION AND STUDY AFTERNOON ON PARKING FEES

A practical Dutch-language manual on concessions was recently published by Belgian legal publishers Vandenbroele. It deals with all the Belgian and European aspects of concessions for sites, services and works. It considers the European Concessions Directive and the regulations applicable to specific areas of economic activity, including casinos, ports, pilotage, airports, markets, mines, parks, beaches, roads and waterways, offshore wind turbines and the exploitation of the seabed. Written by the lawyers Eric Van Hooydonk and Björn Cloots the book can be ordered here.

PRACTICAL MANUAL ABOUT CONCESSIONS NOW AVAILABLE

Further to a request of the European Commission, Eric Van Hooydonk is acting as a consultant in connection with the privatization of Greece’s ports, specifically twelve ports of national importance that have been restructured as public limited companies. They include Piraeus, Europe’s largest passenger port and one of the largest container hubs in the Mediterranean as well as Thessaloniki. Eric Van Hooydonk is making recommendations about how Greece’s brand new regulator for the ports industry should be organized and is revising the new draft concessions for the ports undergoing privatization. The majority stake of the Hellenic Republic will soon be offered to the highest bidder. Eric Van Hooydonk was given this commission on the basis of expertise acquired during more than 25 years of experience with the legal aspects of port administration.

CONSULTING ON THE PRIVATIZATION OF GREECE’S PORTS

Eric Van Hooydonk Lawyers contributed as legal counsel to the recent agreement reached between the Port of Antwerp Authority and GM Belgium on the transfer back to the Port Authority of the 96 ha of industrial land in the heart of the docklands where the former Opel plant had been located. Once the Courts at Antwerp had confirmed the legal validity of the repurchase option granted to the City of Antwerp (now the Port Authority) back in 1965, and after a panel of experts had determined the value of the land, having regard for the contractually determined restrictions on use, an all-inclusive agreement was reached between parties and the Flemish Government. Antwerp’s Port Authority will now be able to push ahead with the redevelopment of this strategically located site.

SUCCESSFUL COMPLETION OF THE GM LAND TRANSACTION IN ANTWERP  

Eric Van Hooydonk has been invited to make contributions to the annual congress of the European Sea Ports Organisation in Göteborg (on port concessions), a seminar of the Central Rhine Shipping Commission at Strasbourg (about the status of the Scheldt-Rhine junction canal) and the congress of the Comité Maritime International in Berlin (about the new Belgian Maritime Code). Recently he also travelled to Croatia, where he has been looking at the dock labour system. Local visits included a trip to meet the Port Authorities of Rijeka and the International Container Terminal Services (ICTSI) terminal there.

CONTRIBUTIONS TO EVENTS IN GOTHENBURG, STRASBOURG AND BERLIN

Philip Van der Veeken of Eric Van Hooydonk Lawyers is currently completing an internship with Bénédicte Rajot, lawyer and university lecturer in Lyon in France. Rajot is also the author of a study of European competition law as applied to maritime transport. Philip is the first lawyer from Antwerp ever to experience a foreign internship of this kind. The intern programme of the Antwerp bar is supported by the European Union.

VERY FIRST INTERNSHIP FOR FOREIGN LAWYERS IN LYON

The Italian lawyer, Leonida Giunta, attached to the Ca'Foscari University in Venice, has come to Eric Van Hooydonk Lawyers for two months to carry out doctoral research into the European arrangements on selfhandling in the technical-nautical services sector. Last year Eric Van Hooydonk was a visiting lecturer at the Venetian university where he taught an extensive course on dock labour and maritime law.

ITALIAN DOCTORAL STUDENT STUDIES SELFHANDLING IN PORTS

On Monday 20 October 2014 the book Parking Law will be presented to the public at a study afternoon. Authors Eric Van Hooydonk and Björn Cloots have built up years of experience as legal consultants to public and private car park operators and local authorities as well as counsel dealing with legal proceedings at all levels of the justice system. The book is the very first guide to parking law in Belgium and is published by Maklu, the Belgo-Dutch specialist in legal publications. The study afternoon will take place in the lecture theatre of the Bell Building in Antwerp. You can find the full programme and registration form here.

STUDY AFTERNOON ON PARKING LAW ON MONDAY, 20 OCTOBER 2014

FEBRU 2014

The most recent edition of the respected British Journal of International Maritime Law includes a plea by Eric Van Hooydonk in favour of the codification of the general principles of maritime law. The existence of principles common to all systems of maritime law (the Lex Maritima) has long been acknowledged in the scientific literature and in a growing number of national laws. So far though what has been missing is a global instrument that inventorizes, describes and ratifies these principles. This could among other things play an important and practical role in the uniform interpretation of maritime law. With a view to creating such an instrument the Comité Maritime International (CMI) has, acting further to an initiative of Eric Van Hooydonk, established an International Working Group. The CMI is an international association of maritime law practitioners and has in the past prepared numerous international maritime conventions. Eric elucidated his proposals at the European Congress of Maritime Law held at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam on 11-12 September 2014. It will also be discussed during the CMI Congress to be held in Istanbul from the 6th to the 10th of June 2015. The paper can be downloaded here.

CMI PROJECT DEFINES LEX MARITIMA OR THE WORLD PRINCIPLES OF MARITIME LAW

Eric Van Hooydonk Lawyers has been commissioned by the Flemish waterway administrators De Scheepvaart and Waterwegen en Zeekanaal to carry out a study of the way navigation fees are collected on the region’s rivers and canals might be reformed. In association with the renowned Technum consultancy, the existing cost structure of the administration of the waterways and the possible introduction of a new tolling system will be explored.

STUDY OF THE COST STRUCTURE AND FEE POLICY OF INLAND WATERWAYS OF FLANDERS

Eric Van Hooydonk Lawyers acted in the case of the three year old ro-ro car carrier C Ladybug which was sold to the highest bidder at Antwerp for EUR 53.6 million. The 27,200 dwt ship had been lying idle in Antwerp for some time. Several creditors who arrested the ship were able to recover their claim. In the meantime the ship has been renamed the Glovis Solomon and returned to service.

CAR CARRIER C LADYBUG AUCTIONED IN ANTWERP FOR EUR 53.6 MILLION

We welcome newcomer Anastasia Toumanova to our office. After studying law she completed a specialization course at the VUB in international and European law, passing magna cum laude. She has published inter alia on the conflict-of-laws aspects of tort law in Belgium’s Nieuw Juridisch Weekblad. An added advantage for us is that Anastasia speaks both Russian and Dutch at native speaker level as well having a basic knowledge of several other East European languages.

NEW EXPERTISE IN INTERNATIONAL LAW (AND RUSSIAN) WITH ANASTASIA TOUMANOVA

The forthcoming issue of the respected Journal of International Maritime Law will contain an exploratory examination of the status of unmanned cargo and passenger ships by Eric Van Hooydonk. This is the first time such an extensive consideration of the topic will be published. Although unmanned merchant shipping and inland navigation are still in the experimental phase, they are drawing increasing attention from policy makers and business. The article examines to what extent existing maritime and shipping law could be used, the need for regulatory change and some of the policy options that might be considered.

STUDY OF THE COMPETITIVE POSITION OF THE BELGIAN INLAND NAVIGATION FLEET

Eric Van Hooydonk Lawyers in consortium with RebelGroup and BMT Surveys have been commissioned to examine the competitive position of the Belgium’s fleet of inland waterway vessels and to formulate a number of recommendations. Our firm will in particular be comparing the conditions of employment and crewing requirements applicable on Belgian flagged vessels and be comparing them with those applicable in Germany, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Switzerland. The commissioning agency is the Instituut voor Transport langs de Binnenwateren.

ELABORATING PPP PROCEDURES FOR NEW PUBLIC CAR PARKS IN ANTWERP

Eric Van Hooydonk Lawyers has won a public procurement contract for the legal and financial supervision of the Public-Private Partnership procedures for the construction of various new public car parks under, on and near to the riverside quays in the centre of Antwerp. The commission takes the form of a four-year framework agreement. Under the agreement recommendations are to be made about the preferred legal formulas and the procedure for selecting private investors and operators. The commissioning agency is the Municipal Parking Agency of Antwerp.

MASTER PLAN FOR SHIPPING ON THE MEKONG IN SOUTHEAST ASIA

Eric Van Hooydonk will be attending to the legal aspects of the new Master Plan for Shipping on the Mekong, the world-class river that traverses China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam and which is used by an ever-growing volume of river traffic. Intensely involved in the region since 1999, Eric Van Hooydonk will among other things be advising on the harmonization of regulations and the implementation of treaties between the riparian states. The Master Plan for Shipping is being prepared by the Mekong River Commission and should be completed during the course of 2015.

WHAT WILL THE LEGAL STATUS OF UNMANNED MERCHANT SHIPS BE ?

SYMPOSIUM EXPLORES THE FUTURE OF DOCK LABOUR IN BELGIUM, THE NETHERLANDS AND SPAIN

Eric Van Hooydonk will be examining the consequences of the Spanish dock labour ruling of the European Court of Justice of 11 December 2014 at a symposium to be held in Vlaardingen near Rotterdam on 20 March 2015. The event will consider a series of newsmaking topics in maritime and transport law, and the dock labour issue will be one of these. Eric Van Hooydonk Lawyers handles a range of dock labour cases and for this reason keeps a close watch on current developments. The symposium is being organized by the leading Belgo-Dutch publication Tijdschrift Vervoer & Recht.

LEGAL PAPER ON THE IMPACT OF BELGIUM’S CONSTITUTIONAL REFORMS ON ITS PORTS AND SHIPPING

In the latest issue of the Journal of Network Industries Law (Revue du droit des industries de réseau) there is an article by Eric Van Hooydonk about the consequences of the Sixth Constitutional Reform on Belgium’s ports and shipping industry. Following the reforms Belgium’s Regions now have significant new powers to regulate inland navigation. The commercial aspects of transport and shipping law, however, continue to be the responsibility of the Federal authorities.

PUBLICATION OF THE JUBILEE ALBUM OF THE ROYAL BELGIAN SHIPOWNERS’ ASSOCIATION

Pandora Publishers has, acting on behalf of the Royal Belgian Shipowners’ Association, published a lavishly illustrated Jubilee Album that sketches the history of the organization from 1909 to 2009. Professor Emeritus Greta Devos deals with the first eighty years, while Eric Van Hooydonk looks at the two most recent decades. Indeed this latter period has seen the success of efforts to bring merchant shipping back to the Belgian register. The publisher can be contacted here.

SPANISH AND BELGIAN PORT LABOUR ARRANGEMENTS CONTRAVENE EU LAW

On 11 December 2014 the European Court of Justice ruled that Spain’s port labour legislation is contrary to EU law. The case was brought by the European Commission following a complaint. The Court found that the rule requiring port employers to join a local labour pool (a “Sociedad Anónima de Gestión de Estibadores Portuarios” or “SAGEP”) and the prohibition on recruiting dock workers from outside this pool is in conflict with the principle of freedom of establishment, which is guaranteed by the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. The Court considers that the legitimate interests of the good functioning of ports and the protection of the workers can be looked after through less restrictive means such as temporary work agencies of training provided by the employer. The ruling also undermines the comparable Belgian port labour arrangements. In fact no fewer than eight complaints against the latter arrangements have been filed with the Commission. In 2013 Eric Van Hooydonk made an extensive study of port labour in the EU which revealed numerous problems. The new ruling represents an opportunity to push through the modernization of the currently fossilized rules and to return to normal industrial relations in the interest of improving the ability of ports to compete and the employment prospects of future generations of dockworkers. Eric Van Hooydonk Lawyers is currently handling ten or so port labour dossiers.

NEW TAX RULES FOR INTER-MUNICIPAL COOPERATIVE STRUCTURES AND AUTONOMOUS MUNICIPAL CORPORATIONS

Further to the procedures pursued by our office in connection with the tax discrimination against autonomous municipal corporations compared to inter-municipal cooperative structures, which gave rise to rulings by the Constitutional Court on 6 December 2012 (no. 148/2012) and 17 July 2014 (no.114/ 2014), the Belgian government has proposed provisions aimed at remedying this discrimination for inclusion in the draft of the Programme Law submitted to the Chamber of Representatives on 28 November 2014 (Chamber Doc 54 0672/001). The draft provides for the repeal of Article 180, 1° of the Income Tax Code 92, in which the current unconditional exemption of inter-municipal cooperative structures from company tax is currently set out. The change in the law would mean that inter-municipal cooperative structures would no longer automatically qualify for taxation as legal persons (under the more advantageous impôt des personnes morales). Inter-municipal cooperative structures that pursue an enterprise or are involved in activities of a profit-making nature would in the future be subject to the company tax. Only inter-municipal cooperative arrangements that do not pursue an enterprise or do not concern themselves with profit-making activities would continue to be subject to the tax on legal persons. The change in the tax status of the inter-municipal cooperative structures would take effect as of assessment year 2015 and be applicable to the financial year ending at the earliest on 1 July 2015. The draft does not make any changes at all to the applicability of the company tax regime to autonomous municipal corporations.

SPANISH AND BELGIAN PORT LABOUR ARRANGEMENTS CONTRAVENE EU LAW

On 11 December 2014 the European Court of Justice ruled that Spain’s port labour legislation is contrary to EU law. The case was brought by the European Commission following a complaint. The Court found that the rule requiring port employers to join a local labour pool (a “Sociedad Anónima de Gestión de Estibadores Portuarios” or “SAGEP”) and the prohibition on recruiting dock workers from outside this pool is in conflict with the principle of freedom of establishment, which is guaranteed by the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. The Court considers that the legitimate interests of the good functioning of ports and the protection of the workers can be looked after through less restrictive means such as temporary work agencies of training provided by the employer. The ruling also undermines the comparable Belgian port labour arrangements. In fact no fewer than eight complaints against the latter arrangements have been filed with the Commission. In 2013 Eric Van Hooydonk made an extensive study of port labour in the EU which revealed numerous problems. The new ruling represents an opportunity to push through the modernization of the currently fossilized rules and to return to normal industrial relations in the interest of improving the ability of ports to compete and the employment prospects of future generations of dockworkers. Eric Van Hooydonk Lawyers is currently handling ten or so port labour dossiers.

SPANISH AND BELGIAN PORT LABOUR ARRANGEMENTS CONTRAVENE EU LAW

On 11 December 2014 the European Court of Justice ruled that Spain’s port labour legislation is contrary to EU law. The case was brought by the European Commission following a complaint. The Court found that the rule requiring port employers to join a local labour pool (a “Sociedad Anónima de Gestión de Estibadores Portuarios” or “SAGEP”) and the prohibition on recruiting dock workers from outside this pool is in conflict with the principle of freedom of establishment, which is guaranteed by the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. The Court considers that the legitimate interests of the good functioning of ports and the protection of the workers can be looked after through less restrictive means such as temporary work agencies of training provided by the employer. The ruling also undermines the comparable Belgian port labour arrangements. In fact no fewer than eight complaints against the latter arrangements have been filed with the Commission. In 2013 Eric Van Hooydonk made an extensive study of port labour in the EU which revealed numerous problems. The new ruling represents an opportunity to push through the modernization of the currently fossilized rules and to return to normal industrial relations in the interest of improving the ability of ports to compete and the employment prospects of future generations of dockworkers. Eric Van Hooydonk Lawyers is currently handling ten or so port labour dossiers.

ADVISING ON SUBMARINE ELECTRICITY CABLES IN THE CARIBBEAN AND DREDGING WORKS IN THE FAR EAST

At the request of Antwerp-based engineering and consulting company IMDC, Eric Van Hooydonk Lawyers recently prepared a legal opinion on the laying of two submarine electicity cables between islands in the Caribbean. The opinion considered the international status of the marine areas concerned and national licensing requirements. We also advised on the international aspects of dredging works in three river estuaries in the Far East. These opinions reinforce our reputation for advising on large scale offshore projects and international river management.

MEETING OF EUROPEAN SECRETARY-GENERALS FOR TRANSPORT IN BRUSSELS

Eric Van Hooydonk made a presentation on the future Belgian Shipping Code for a meeting of senior civil servants from the transport ministries of Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland and the UK. The subsequent exchange of views yielded numerous new insights, including news about a forthcoming review of Poland’s maritime legislation.

CLOSING SESSIONS OF TWO INNOVATIVE MARITIME EU PROJECTS

Eric Van Hooydonk made legal presentations at the closing sessions of two innovative European projects. One of these, based in Antwerp, concerned the establishment of a general platform for the collection of data about the environmental performance of seagoing ships, the other, which took place in Toulon, examined the automation of the detection of illegal activities at sea. In this connection Eric Van Hooydonk looked at aspects of international law, environmental law, criminal law and the protection of personal privacy, and others.