Van Bael & Bellis launches London international trade team with hires from Crowell & Moring, Ashurst

Brussels-based independent launches new practice amid “unprecedented growth in EU and UK sanctions and export control legislation”

Michelle Linderman Image courtesy of Van Bael & Bellis

Heavyweight Brussels EU antitrust and trade specialist Van Bael & Bellis (VBB) is setting up an international trade team in London with the hire of senior lawyers from Crowell & Moring and Ashurst. 

Former Crowell & Moring partner Michelle Linderman will lead the establishment of the new team with support from senior counsel Ross Denton, formerly head of international trade at Ashurst.

VBB, traditionally known for its strength in EU antitrust, trade and regulatory law as well as commercial disputes, said the new arrivals would add depth to its trade teams in its other bases in Brussels and Geneva. 

“Over the past 14 months there has been unprecedented growth in EU and UK sanctions and export control legislation,” said Linderman. “Working with the team at VBB, Ross and I will be well placed to provide clients with the commercially-focussed, practical and strategic guidance needed in this complex area of law.”

Linderman has joined the firm after six years at Crowell in London, prior to which she was a partner at Ince & Co. She has more than 20 years of experience advising clients on UK-specific and cross-border sanctions, the UK Modern Slavery Act, export controls and cybersecurity issues, among other specialised areas that concern national and international trade as well as financial sanctions. She also brings expertise handling complex commercial disputes.

Meantime, Denton’s expertise covers export controls, sanctions, customs and trade remedies, as well as cartels, state aid/subsidy control and foreign direct investment control. He spent just shy of three years at Ashurst, prior to which he practised for more than 30 years at Baker McKenzie. 

“I am delighted to be joining VBB in London with Michelle, who is a genuine sanctions specialist, and a great lawyer,” Denton said. 

“After Brexit, the UK has been given back its power to make and operate its own trade policy. The London legal market has yet to rise to the challenge of servicing clients fully in this space. Michelle and I are very excited to have been asked to help VBB, one of the great European trade firms, build up its UK-based trade practice,” he added. 

VBB said its expansion in London was a direct response to its EU and UK clients’ need for support in navigating parallel enforcement regimes and growing regulatory scrutiny as a result of the global shift towards restrictive economic security and environmental policies.

The firm, which markets itself as a specialist referral destination, particularly for Asian and US law firms seeking EU advice for their clients, first opened in London in 2020 in response to Brexit and offers UK law capability from its London arm. 

The London office initially housed competition partner Alex Stratakis working alongside Brussels-based partners David Hull and Philippe De Baere and has since grown to house partner Nicholas Lawn, who joined from Skadden in 2021 to lead the London disputes resolution practice, and a small team of associates. 

VBB said the hire of Linderman and Denton had prompted it to move the office from Chancery Lane to a larger space at Holborn Gate, 330 High Holborn. The London team offers expertise in UK and EU competition, international trade and international dispute resolution across sectors including digital, energy, steel, mining, shipping and financial institutions.

VBB has also boosted its transactions team in Brussels recently with the hire of seven lawyers from DLA Piper over the course of 2022, including Brussels corporate team lead Caroline Daout and experienced banking and finance partner Johan Mouraux. 

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