Freshfields lures Belgian tax expert

Freshfields has taken Loeff Claeys Verbeke's head of tax in an attempt to boost its Belgian practice.

Axel Haelterman joins as a partner after more than 12 years at the leading Belgian practice.

He is regarded as one of the country's leading tax practitioners and is a professor of tax law at the University of Leuven.

Haelterman headed Loeff Claeys' team of 25 tax lawyers.

He will now be working alongside finance partner Ivan Peeters and corporate partner Klaus Heinemann to develop the tax practice at Freshfields.

Head of the firm's international tax group Roger Berner says: “Axel's arrival will significantly strengthen the firm's tax capabilities in Belgium. It is a further important step in the development of our pan-European tax practice.”

Freshfields declines to disclose if Haelterman's clients are going with him. He specialises in advising government agencies and ministries.

Some of his most recent work includes acting as lead adviser for the establishment of the Easdaq stock market and the Belfox options and futures exchange.

Freshfields' Belgian practice has nine partners and 31 lawyers. The office was established following the alliance with Deringer Tessin Herrmann & Sedemund.

Last year Dutch firm Loeff Claeys Verbeke dissolved its partnership following the decision of 32 of the partners to merge with Allen & Overy.

The remaining 29 partners based in The Netherlands then merged with tax specialist Loyens & Volkmaars to form Loyens & Loeff.

But the Belgian practice continues to function as one operation under the original name.