Background - Practices (Details)

Telecommunications

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Crowell & Moring is recognized as a leading law firm in Belgium for sector-specific matters related to the telecommunications, information technology and media & entertainment sectors. We advise on commercial and transactional, regulatory, corporate and M&A, competition, outsourcing, employment, intellectual property and dispute resolution matters. We represent both national and international clients across these industries.

With specific reference to the telecommunications industry, the following capabilities in our Brussels office are particularly worthy of note:

Regulatory

We counsel clients on the regulatory requirements applicable to their activities in Belgium and throughout the rest of Europe, including licensing requirements, access to and the use of numbering capacity, lawful intercept obligations, data protection and retention requirements, contractual obligations and information requirements towards end-users, and value-added services.

Litigation

Our team is well known for its work in contentious matters. Over the years, we have been involved in a number of high-profile cases concerning electronic communications. We regularly represent clients before all the relevant courts and regulatory bodies including the sector regulator BIPT/IBPT, the Ethical Commission for Telecommunications, the specialized chambers of the Brussels Court of Appeal and the Mediation Service for the Telecommunications Sector.

Our Team

Our team is led by partner Thomas De Meese. Thomas has been consistently recognized by many reputable legal journals for his work in this area. He has been made a member of the Legal 500 EMEA Hall of Fame because of his outstanding reputation and the consistent praise of his work by clients and peers. Thomas is supported by an excellent team of younger lawyers, including telecoms specialist Karl Stas (counsel). Karl focuses on EU and Belgian competition law and the regulation of network industries (in particular telecommunications, postal and energy).

“Thomas De Meese heads the firm's telecommunication practice, advising on transactional and contentious matters. […] Clients describe him as an ‘outstanding’ lawyer, who offers ‘excellent support’”. Chambers Europe, 2018

“Thomas De Meese […] ‘knows telecoms work inside out’ and also handles competition matters relating to media and IP. [He is] ‘helpful and responsive’ according to clients.” Chambers Europe, 2018

“Thomas De Meese is a well-known practitioner with extensive experience in the media and telecoms sectors. He is singled out for his work in the areas of competition, technology and gambling legislation.” Chambers Europe, 2017

“An impressed client states: ‘[Thomas] is not only accurate, flexible and fast but is also a very bright guy. It is a good combination.’” Chambers Europe, 2016

Representative Matters

  • Drafted and negotiated one of the first full MVNO agreements in Belgium.
  • Represented an MVNO in litigation arising out of the migration of its subscriber base from one supplier to another.
  • Litigated in relation to the acquisition by a cable operator of the TV business of several associations of municipalities.
  • Represented an internet access provider in litigation that led to a landmark ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union on the issue of the exoneration from liability for online intermediaries with respect to copyright infringements committed by their subscribers (ECJ, 24 November 2011, Scarlet Extended v. Sabam, Case C-70/10.
  • Advised a large multinational electronic communications operator in relation to its lawful intercept obligations throughout Europe.
  • Advised a start-up electronic communications service provider in relation to licensing requirements throughout Europe.
  • Advised on mediation proceedings before the regulator BIPT/IBPT regarding a dispute on call termination tariffs.
  • Represented a multinational provider of online games before the Ethical Commission for Telecommunications for use of VAS (value-added service) numbers.
  • Assisted a mobile broadband access provider to enter the Belgian market and provide mobile data services.
  • Reviewed an interactive platform service provider’s terms and conditions on IVR, SMS, and iDTV services.
  • Represented a cable operator in its proceedings against the regulator BIPT/IBPT for breach of information obligations toward its customers.
  • Represented an alternative operator in its complaint against the incumbent for failure to comply with regulatory obligations.
  • Represented a cable operator in its appeals against an NRA’s decision to mandate access to its network as well as against further implementing decisions determining the applicable wholesale access tariffs.