Claeys & Engels

Claeys & Engels is unique. It is the only Belgian firm to specialise in HR-related matters.

The niche firm was established 10 years ago with 35 lawyers and now has 80 working within the organisation. ­Founding partner and chairman Chris Engels says the firm offers any service an HR department may need, including tax support.

“We deliver short, concise and to-the-point advice,” he says. “We avoid long theoretical memos.”

Two weeks ago the firm changed its tagline to ’partners with you’. Engels says this is representative of the organisation’s current mission. “The tagline’s our most important message to our clients,” he adds. “We deliver what they need, when they need it.”

Clients include many of the big multinational and subsidiary companies working in Belgium in various industries. Over the past few years business has been improving steadily, although, as a labour-focused firm, Engels does bemoan the “flat economy”.

The firm is a founding member of the Ius Laboris alliance, a global network of leading HR law ­practitioners with members in more than 40 ­countries. It wants to continue its network activities to help develop the firm’s strategy at an international level. “We want to intensify this relationship and be a lot more than what the name says,” says Engels. “We want to create a seamless approach in the alliance so the client doesn’t notice any difference in service across each country.”

Engels himself specialises in dismissal law and the transfer of undertakings and outsourcing. He has acted as an EU adviser on matters such as the ­European Works Council and the evolution of labour law for the past 10 years. He has also advised the International Labour Organisation.

Claeys & Engels has partners in all areas of HR, be it labour, pensions or employee benefits. “If there’s an issue we haven’t covered, we’d be happy to work with the client to develop it,” stresses Engels.

Chairman: Chris Engels

Turnover: E21.4m (£18.83m)

Number of partners:17

Number of lawyers:80

Number of fee-earners:71

Number of offices:Six

Locations: Antwerp, ­Brussels, Ghent, Hasselt, ­Kortrijk, Liège

Main practice area:HR and personnel

Key clients:Multinationals and subsidiaries operating in Belgium