Since 2 February 2004, all Belgian law firms when handling certain client matters must comply with "know your customer" procedures pursuant to the Law of 11 January 1993. This legislation was adopted pursuant to an EU directive and aims at the prevention of money laundering and financing of terrorism.
Our attorneys are required, first of all, to identify our clients, to request and retain in confidence a certain number of proofs of identification. Throughout the length of the relationship with the client, they are moreover under a duty of care that may lead them to require additional information from our clients. These obligations exists not only towards our clients – natural and legal persons – but also towards their representatives, such as company directors.
When our attorneys become aware, while handling one of the matters referred to in the law, of facts which they know or have reason to believe have a connection to money laundering or financing terrorism, they are under a legal obligation to bring these to the attention of the head of their bar immediately. This reporting obligation does not exist where their assistance consists of analysing the client's legal position or defending or representing the client in (or in relation to) legal proceedings. It is up to the head of the bar to decide whether or not any information received is to be transmitted to the Belgian government (the "Financial Intelligence Processing Unit").
Other than for the aforementioned reporting requirements, these rules do not affect the professional secrecy and legal privilege which apply in the relationship between our attorneys and clients.
If you have any further questions on this subject, please discuss then with the Eubelius partner with whom you work on a regular basis. You also may submit them to the following address: identification [at] eubelius [dot] com