Since opening in 1990, the Brussels office has brought excellence, creativity, and practicality to our representation of clients in Europe. The Legal 500 EMEA recently noted our innovative approach to practice, stating that: “we single out Washington, DC regulatory heavyweight Covington & Burling, which in packaging legal advice together with strategic consultancy services is attempting to re-define what it means to be a law firm in Brussels.”
Five distinctive strengths set us apart in the Brussels market.
- High Technology Regulation: While active on behalf of companies throughout the economy, we are especially well known as a market leader in advising companies in high technology sectors, including the pharmaceutical, medical device, biotechnology, novel foods, internet, electronic commerce, and new media sectors. These industries tend to be highly regulated, rely heavily on intellectual property, and often are active in processing sensitive data. We have deep expertise in the regulatory regimes governing these sectors and the specific challenges they present. Illustrative clients include Qualcomm, Microsoft, Merck, Convergys, PhRMA, and Sony, among many others. Many of our clients in these sectors have been with us for more than a decade -- a clear sign of their confidence in us.
- Government Affairs & EU Policy: For many years, we have been one of the leading law firms in Brussels helping to ensure that industry’s voice is heard in the EU legislative process and in administrative decision making. Our capabilities in this field are greatly enhanced by our senior European Policy Advisor, Wim van Velzen, who served with distinction for over a decade in the European Parliament, where he was Vice President of the European People’s Party, the largest political grouping in Parliament, and Ambassador Jean De Ruyt, who served as Permanent Representative of Belgium to the European Union and as chair of the Committee of Permanent Representatives during the 2010 Belgian Presidency of the Council. We have been active in dozens of legislative campaigns, often involving cutting edge proposals affecting such matters as the regulation of electronic commerce, software patents, online advertising, data protection, animal testing of cosmetics, electronic waste take back rules, product liability, chemicals regulation (REACH), noise emission levels, advanced therapies, and numerous other measures affecting the life sciences and information technology industries. Our services include legislative analysis, mobilizing coalitions, advocacy, strategic advice, and legislative and administrative procedural expertise. We also have particular experience in developing outreach efforts in relation to Commission competition law investigations.
- EU Litigation: Another distinctive strength is our expertise in litigation before the European Court of Justice and the General Court, where we have been involved in some seventy cases in recent years. Our clients include the Council of the European Union, Microsoft, Merck, ScheringPlough, Qualcomm, the European Low Fare Airlines Association, and the Association of Corporate Counsel Europe. Frequently, these matters have involved novel legal questions of both substance and procedure, including the first ever challenge by a third party to a Community marketing authorization of a pharmaceutical product, the scope of legal privilege enjoyed by in house counsel, the enforcement of procedural rights, and access to documents.
- Transatlantic Policy: We are extremely well positioned to assist clients on complex legal and policy issues with a strong transatlantic dimension. Stu Eizenstat, widely regarded as one of the most effective ambassadors ever to have represented the US before the European institutions, chairs the firm’s International Trade and Finance Group. Stu has maintained close ties with senior European policy makers. He also continues to be active in the World Economic Forum and the Transatlantic Business Dialogue, and he serves as co-chair of the European American Business Counsel. We are equally fortunate to have colleague Al Larson, former Under Secretary of State. We offer our clients a one-stop-shop for matters that require coordinated efforts on both side of the Atlantic in areas such as trade, product regulation, merger control, cartels, and export controls.
- EU Competition: Our expanding EU competition team covers all aspects of EU competition law with a particular focus on regulated sectors including energy, high tech, and pharmaceuticals. Our team has a unique blend of expertise and understanding of European competition and regulatory law and policy that allows clients to safely navigate complex sectors. Members of our team also have extensive experience from European institutions. We know how the European institutions think and operate. This puts us in a unique position in terms of determining the most effective strategy to each individual case and issue.
- Chambers Global (2014)
- Arbitration, Europe-wide and Global
- Competition/European Law, Belgium
- Data Protection, Europe-wide and Global
- International Trade/Anti-Corruption, Global
- International Trade/WTO, Belgium, Europe-wide, and Global
- Insurance: Mainly Policyholders, United Kingdon
- Life Sciences, Europe-wide and Global
- Public International Law, Global
- Chambers Europe (2013-2014)
- Competition/European Law, Belgium and Europe-wide
- Employment - Employer, UK
- Environment, Regulatory, Belgium
- Intellectual Property
- International Trade/WTO, Belgium and Europe-wide
- International Arbitration, Europe-wide
- Life Sciences, Europe-wide
- TMT, TMT Information Technology and TMT Telecommunications, Belgium
- Legal 500 EMEA (2011-2014)
- Competition, Belgium
- Customs, Trade, WTO and Anti-dumping, Belgium
- EU Regulatory - Chemicals (REACH)
- EU Regulatory - Energy
- EU Regulatory - Food
- EU Regulatory - Information Technology
- EU Regulatory - Pharmaceuticals and Biotechnology
- EU Regulatory - Privacy and Data Protection
- Intellectual Property, Belgium
- PLC Cross-border Super League
- Ranked 1st in the Life Sciences Regulatory Super League (2004-2011)
- Ranked 1st in the Life Sciences Industry Super League (2005-2010)
- The Practical Law Company (PLC) - Which Law Firm? (2012)
- Belgium - Intellectual Property
- EU Competition/Anti-Trust
- England - Private Equity, Fund Formation
- England - Venture Capital
- England - Capital Markets and Capital Markets Equity
- England - Mergers & Acquisitions and Mergers & Acquisitions: Mid-Market
- Life Sciences - Competition/Anti-Trust
- Life Sciences - Regulatory
- Life Sciences - Commercial and Partnering
- Life Sciences - Corporate
- Life Sciences - Pricing and Reimbursement
- Life Sciences - Product Liability
- Global Competition Review, shortlisted for Merger Matter of the Year, Europe (Microsoft/Nokia) (2014)
- Global Competition Review "GCR 100 Global Elite" (2013)
- Ranked among the world's top 20 antitrust practices.
- JUVE (2008-2010)
- IFLR1000 (2012-2013)
- Ranked by The Lawyer as one of the "Top 50 Litigation Firms" (2011-2013)
- Ranked by The Lawyer as one of the "Top 30 International Firms" (2009-2013)
- Managing Intellectual Property Awards, shortlisted in the pan-European categories "New Media/Internet" (2010) and "Internet & Domain Names" (2011)
- Managing Intellectual Property Global IP Survey - Copyright, recommended in Belgium (2009-2014)
- Managing Intellectual Property Global Awards, "US IP Firm in Europe" for EU and regulatory work (2008)
- WORLDLeaders IP Awards, shortlisted in the worldwide categories "Excellence in Domain Name Policy Implementation" (2008) and "Domain Name Strategy and Management" (2009)
- Ranked by The Lawyer as one of the top 50 global litigation practices (2009-2010).
- Ranked by ComputerWorld as one of the leading Privacy Consultancies (2008).
In the News
Covington Expands European Public Policy and Government Affairs Practice with Sebastian Vos
Covington Named to National Law Journal’s “IP Hot List”
Covington Named ‘Transfer Pricing Advisory Firm Of The Year’