IEL Elite

Claeys & Engels

Prestigious boutique



Large employment law boutique Claeys & Engels boasts an impressive reputation in Belgium for the strength of its offering across all aspects of labour and employment issues.

Managing partner Olivier Wouters and name partner Chris Engels are key contacts at the firm, which operates out of Antwerp, Brussels, Ghent, Hasselt, Kortrijk, and Liège.

The firm is a go-to for leading international firms seeking assistance in Belgium, and is adept at taking on cross-border work both in the broader Benelux region and beyond. Additionally, as the Belgian member of Ius Laboris, the team has close relationships with a global network of leading employment law experts.

The firm advises both private and public sector clients, and is active in the consumer goods, technology, and financial services sectors, among others.


The boutique offers considerable expertise across the gamut of employment and labour law issues. This includes hiring and recruitment, compensation and benefits, global mobility, and pensions – including advice on pension funds. Notably, the boutique also has a dedicated team of tax specialists.

Of late, the team has been active in assisting clients with large-scale restructuring processes, including those involving collective dismissals, voluntary redundancies, and spin-offs. Experts at the firm are able to provide assistance with initial strategy discussions, negotiations with unions, and transfers of undertaking.

More broadly, the team demonstrates prowess in advising on M&A and other corporate operations, such as the set-up of entities. Activity in this space includes harmonisation processes and negotiations with works councils.

The team has also been active in supporting companies with the EU Whistleblowing Directive, including with data privacy aspects, as well as in advising clients on implementing compliant remote working arrangements.

Members of the team demonstrate further prowess in disputes, with experience of representing clients before the European Court of Justice. This expertise extends to industrial disputes and assisting companies facing strike action.

The group also aids clients through inspections by labour authorities, and can represent clients in related criminal proceedings.

Aside from this, the team supports with updating internal policies (including liaising with trade unions), health and safety, and issues relating to unfair competition and the solicitation of employees or customers.

Other key names

  • Bart Adriaens
  • Patrick Maerten
  • Luc Bihain
  • Sophie Maes
  • Isabelle De Somviele
  • Dieter Dejonghe
  • Jan Van Gysegem
  • Bart Vanschoebeke
  • Jean-Paul Lacomble
  • Inger Verhelst
  • Henri-François Lenaerts
  • Jean-Yves Verslype
Featured IEL Elite firms in Belgium