I. General conditions of use of the Sotra website

1. General

Use of this website (the "Website") is subject to the conditions set out below. By visiting and using the Website and its content, you are deemed to accept these conditions without further formality. 

2. Exclusion of liability

The information on the Website is general and purely explanatory in nature. We endeavour to ensure that it is also as accurate, relevant and up to date as possible. However, neither Sotra nor any of its lawyers shall be deemed a professional service provider in any capacity whatsoever via the Website. Accordingly, neither Sotra nor any of its lawyers is liable for the information that is published on the Website or any use that visitors might make thereof. 

In general, we are liable only for legal advice that we render to our clients for which we charge a fee and neither Sotra nor any of its lawyers shall be liable for loss resulting from use of the Website or of the information contained herein.

3. Intellectual property

The Website and its entire content are protected by intellectual property law. This protection includes the text, images, photographs, illustrations and, in general, everything contained on the Website. Information placed online on the Website, particularly legal news, may not be used for commercial purposes without Sotra’s express permission. It may not be reproduced of made public without clear, express mention of the source.

4. Data Protection

Sotra respects the privacy of users of the Website, in accordance with the Act of 8 December 1992. The only personal data that we collect via the website is that given by users by means of ad hoc forms. This data is exclusively processed for the purpose of providing information on (i) the latest developments in employment law, (ii) seminars and events organised by Sotra and (iii) the employment law services offered by Sotra. Your data will at no time be processed for other purposes or passed to third parties. You have a right to access and demand correction of the data concerning you. To exercise this right, all you need do is send an e-mail to info@sotra.be

II. General conditions governing services provided by Sotra

1. "SOTRA" is a trading name. The business activities of Sotra are carried on by BV BVBA Olivier Rijckaert, incorporated under Belgian law under enterprise number 0825.765.156 (VAT no. BE0825.765.156) and having its registered office at Louizalaan/Avenue Louise 65 box 11, 1050 Brussels, Belgium. The company’s objects are to carry on the profession of lawyers (advocaten/avocats) in a group practice.

2. Scope of application. These conditions apply automatically to all relations between Sotra and its clients and to all engagements accepted by Sotra unless otherwise agreed in writing. Without prejudice to clause 3 of these general conditions, they are applicable not only to Sotra but also to all persons involved in carrying out assignments entrusted to Sotra. These general conditions may be subject to revision from time to time. They may be viewed on the website at http://www.sotra.be. In the event of differences among the English, Dutch and French versions, the French version shall prevail.

3. Instructions and engagements. All instructions and all engagements are deemed to be entrusted to Sotra, including instructions and engagements that are explicitly or impliedly intended to be dealt with by a specific lawyer within Sotra. Consequently, only Sotra may be liable for the services provided by its partners, associates and staff.

4. Insurance and liability. Sotra’s professional liability is limited to the sums covered by the insurance it has contracted. In no event shall that liability exceed EUR 11,250,000. Sotra is not liable to compensate clients for any claim unless the claim is notified to Sotra within one year of the time at which the client became, or could reasonably have become, aware of an event or circumstances giving, or capable of giving, rise to that claim.

5. Intervention of third parties. If necessary, Sotra may contract the services of third parties to carry out engagements on a client’s behalf. Sotra will choose such third parties with care and is not liable for any act or omission by any such third party. Clients authorise Sotra on their behalf to acquiesce in any limitation of liability imposed by third parties. Unless otherwise agreed, clients will be directly liable to pay the fees and charges of third parties whose services are contracted by Sotra. 

6. Service provided. The services rendered by Sotra are provided exclusively in the client’s interests and may not serve the purposes of, or be utilised by, third parties. Clients accept the confidential nature of the services provided by Sotra and undertake to uphold that confidentiality by not divulging the content thereof to any third party without Sotra’s prior, written consent. Clients will hold Sotra harmless against all claims emanating from any third party and indemnify Sotra for all reasonable costs to which it is exposed in defending itself against any such claim. 

7. Trust account. Monies received by Sotra from clients or third parties and requiring to be held in custody by it will be deposited into a trust account with a financial institution chosen by Sotra. Sotra is not liable in the event of the insolvency of the relevant financial institution or of any other financial institution involved in the transfer of funds, or for any other act or omission on the part of financial institutions. 

8. End of the engagement. Clients may terminate the relationship with Sotra at any time. In that event, clients continue to be bound to pay for services rendered before notice of termination of the relationship is given and for costs incurred by Sotra prior to such notification. Sotra may terminate the relationship with the client in accordance with the applicable ethical rules. 

9. Fees and charges. Unless otherwise agreed, Sotra’s fees will be calculated on the basis of the number of hours worked multiplied by the applicable hourly rates as notified to clients at the start of their engagement. Costs borne by Sotra in the framework of an engagement, such as travel, court officers’ charges, etc., are invoiced separately. On top of that, a flat-rate charge of 5% is made to cover sundry office expenses (post, telephone, copies, etc.). In principle, Sotra’s services are invoiced monthly and require to be paid within 15 days of tax point unless otherwise expressly agreed with the client. Under Belgian law, our fees are subject to VAT at the rate of 21%. In the event of late payment of an invoice, Sotra reserves the right to invoice interest at a rate of 12% per annum, plus liquidated damages of 15% of the invoice total (min. EUR 250), to cover its administrative costs. Should any invoice remain due and resting owing for more the 60 days after the relevant tax point, Sotra reserves the right to suspend rendering of its services by sending the client advance notification thereof. Disputes concerning the particulars or amounts of invoices must be notified within 30 days of tax point, failing which they shall be irrevocably deemed accepted. 

10. Ethics. Sotra, together with the lawyers working for it, abides by the applicable rules of the bar association to which they belong in the conduct of their legal practice.

11. Money laundering. Under the relevant money-laundering legislation, clients agree to procure all relevant information, documentation and evidence that might be required. Clients are aware that Sotra may require to report suspect transactions that could entail money-laundering practices. Moreover, Sotra reserves the right to immediately suspend its services where it becomes aware, or suspects, that a transaction might be suspect. 

12. Applicable law and jurisdiction. The contractual relationship between any client and Sotra is governed by Belgian law. Any disputes relative thereto will be within the jurisdiction of the competent courts in Brussels.