Real Estate Newsletter
28 October 2016 - Edition 30
M ediation costs for rental of residential property: some recent developments Tenancy protection for residential space to also apply to berth rentals Increased certainty regarding the conditional transfer of ownership New mortgage legislation requires personal approach and forbearance on the part of the creditor Pay attention when letting several adjoining properties Apartment owner can also qualify as an owner under the Estates Act 1928 De Novitaris: will the disciplinary body follow the lead of the Supreme Court? Energy performance fee for the letting of very energy-efficient residential property Act Mobility Rental Market of 2015
Budget Day: 2017 Tax Plan Modification of the definition of "building site" in line with European law VAT refunds for bad debts `European' building site also exempt from transfer tax Developers may run more risks when buying an existing building without risk of transfer tax Option for VAT-taxed lease did not hold out
New publication: Building in the Netherlands
Mediation costs for rental of residential property: some recent developments
On 16 October 2015, the Dutch Supreme Court handed down a decision on mediation costs for the rental of residential property. The decision made it clear that a broker may not charge mediation costs to the lessee if the broker (also) represents the lessor. The decision caused quite a lot of commotion and received a great deal of media attention. Since then, large numbers of lessees have gone to court in order to claim repayment of mediation costs that they paid.
A creative broker Of course, in spite of the decision handed down by the Supreme Court, these claims are not always paid voluntarily. Defence strategies found in recent jurisprudence are often based on the period of limitation of such claims. A decision handed down on 19 August 2016, however, makes it clear that brokers sometimes try to avoid repayment via trickier methods. A lessee who wishes to claim repayment of mediation costs was turned away by the brokerage agency. As it so happens, the brokerage agency originally contacted by the lessee at the time of the rental no longer exists. The owner of the agency at the time has, in the meantime, established a new agency. The new agency is based at the same address, has the same employees, and uses the same telephone number. The only thing that has actually changed is the registration number with the Chamber of Commerce. The subdistrict court saw through this trick and ordered the brokerage agency to repay the mediation costs.
Change in the law In addition, as of 1 July last, the rules that apply to mediation costs have been tightened. The rule to the effect that a brokerage agency which represents the lessor as well as the lessee (consumer) is not entitled to any remuneration now has a mandatory nature. Accordingly, a brokerage agency may no longer deviate from the rule at the expense of the lessee. In addition, there is now an explicit provision specifying that fees may also no longer be charged to a lessee for the rental of shared accommodation. Finally, it has also been made clear that the name used to describe the entitlement to `remuneration' is not important. For example, in addition to mediation costs, commission fees, registration costs, and administrative costs are considered to be forbidden forms of remuneration, depending upon the services that are covered or not covered by these costs.
Further information: Pauline Leegwater e-mail: email@example.com; tel. +31 20 578 59 73
Tenancy protection for residential space to also apply to berth rentals
A person who rents a berth for a houseboat is not entitled to the same tenancy protection that normally applies to persons renting residential space. The amount of the rental payment and the conditions subject to which the rental contract can be ended depend completely on the agreements entered into between the owner of the berth and the lessee. It is also possible to include a legally binding provision in the rental contract stipulating that, if the berth is transferred to a new owner, the new owner is not bound by the rental agreement. However, at the end of August, the State Secretary of Security and Justice and the Minister for Housing and the Central Government Sector submitted a draft bill for consideration that aims to improve the protection enjoyed by persons renting such berths.
The proposed legislation provides cancellation protection to the person renting a berth, but it does not set any limitations on the rental amount. The reasoning behind the latter is that the new regulations apply to persons who are renting the berth but not the boat itself, as they generally own the boat. Generally speaking, these lessees have a level of income and assets that is higher than that enjoyed by the persons for whom tenancy protection is intended. However, the proposed cancellation protection is the same as the protection enjoyed by lessees of `normal' residential properties, except for an additional provision to the effect that the lessor can also cancel the agreement if the berth may not be used as moorage for the houseboat due to statutory regulations. Finally, the proposed legislation also stipulates that the principle `tenancy agreements are not terminated by sale' also applies to berths mandatorily.
Interested parties have until 28 October next to submit comments on the proposed legislation. After that, the ministries are expected to prepare a draft bill to be submitted to the House of Representatives.
Further information: Fokke Jan Vonck e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; tel. +31 20 578 59 35
Increased certainty regarding the conditional transfer of ownership
In the notarial sector, it sometimes happens that the requirements for transfer of a property have already been completed, whereas the intention is for the actual transfer of ownership to take place only after a condition has been fulfilled, for example payment of the remainder of the purchase price. In Newsletter 28, we reported that, in the case of such a `conditional transfer of ownership', uncertainty existed regarding the legal position of the future owner. In particular, the Court of The Hague had ruled that the future owner could use the property as collateral only after the condition had actually been fulfilled and the future owner had thereby obtained full ownership. The Dutch Supreme Court has, however, overturned this decision by now. According to our highest court, a buyer already has a property right before the condition has been fulfilled, which he can dispose of (for example by establishing a mortgage). This decision has created clarity regarding the legal position of the party acquiring ownership subject to a condition precedent.
This is a good news for the notarial sector, where the conditional transfer of ownership is sometimes desirable, for example as an alternative to the well-known registration of the purchase deed (`Vormerkung') or when a purchaser must provide collateral for an initial payment already made before the transfer of ownership.
Further information: Charlotte Rozendaal e-mail: email@example.com; tel. +31 20 578 54 49
New mortgage legislation requires personal approach and forbearance on the part of the creditor
The new mortgage legislation also has consequences for forced property sales. The newly enacted article 7:128a of the Dutch Civil Code (BW) that requires forbearance and a personal approach on the part of the creditor towards the consumer when the claim becomes enforceable. This article anchors the `duty of care' on the part of the creditor in the Dutch Civil Code.
On 14 July 2016, the European directive on consumer credit agreements for residential properties was implemented in Dutch law. The new mortgage regulations were introduced with the aim of providing consumers within the member states with a high and equivalent level of protection. The new legislation also introduces various provisions that apply to the forced sale of property.
If a consumer is in default of the loan agreement, the mortgage holder has the right to conduct an execution sale of the mortgaged property. In view of the far-reaching consequences of this right of immediate execution, the duty of care incumbent upon the creditor is set down in various laws. For example, the creditor must take the legitimate interests of the consumer into account (art. 4:25 of the Financial Supervision Act (Wft) and art. 2 of the General Banking Conditions) and consult with him in order to arrive at a reasonable solution (art. 15 of the Code of Conduct for Mortgage Loans (GHF)). In order to effectively protect the consumer and anchor the directive in law, it was decided to also anchor the duty of care incumbent upon the creditor in the Dutch Civil Code. For that purpose, art. 7:128a of the Dutch Civil Code stipulates that a creditor may not make use of his right of immediate execution until two months have passed since the claim became enforceable and the creditor has personally invited the consumer to enter into consultations regarding the payment arrears, unless this cannot reasonably be demanded of the creditor. This rule can prevent a property from being sold under execution if a payment arrangement can still be agreed upon. Examples of cases in which the creditor does not need to take the waiting period of two months into account because this cannot reasonably be demanded of him would be cases in which a consumer has been declared bankrupt or cannot be found.
Since the duty of care was introduced into the Dutch Civil Code, creditors must be very careful: if the duty of care is violated, the property cannot be sold under execution.
Further information: Sadaf Elyaci e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; tel. +31 20 578 58 86
Pay attention when letting several adjoining properties
If a request is submitted for an interim adjustment of the rental price for retail property, the court pays attention to the prices paid for comparable retail space in the same location. The Amsterdam Court of Appeal also made it clear, on 12 July 2016, how a comparable property should be selected: the actual, original condition of the rental property is not the determining factor in that respect.
The rental property is `the basement and the ground floor' of a commercial property located at Address X and Address Y, for a rent of somewhat over EUR 440,000. Under the lease agreement, the lessee has the right to remove the wall between the property at Address X and the property at Address Y in order to create a single commercial space. At a certain point in time, the lessee claims that the rent is no longer in compliance with fair market value, after which both parties ask an expert for advice. The expert recommends a fair market value of somewhat over EUR 330,000, on the basis of comparable properties consisting of a single commercial space.
According to the lessor, the point of departure for the selection of comparable properties should be that two separate spaces are being let. In that case, the rent would more likely have to be increased rather than decreased. The Court did not agree and ruled that the original state of the rental property was not the determining factor, but rather how the rental property was leased to the lessee. In the lease agreement, the rental price is not specified as the sum of two rental prices for two separate objects. In addition, the description of the rental property (`the basement and the ground floor') does not indicate that two separate objects are involved. According to the Court, one may therefore conclude that it was the intention of the parties to lease the rental property as a single commercial space. The fact that work had to be carried out for that purpose (removing the wall) does not detract from the intention of the parties.
In view of the above decision, if a lessee wishes to lease two adjoining properties for use as a single commercial space, the lessor would be well advised to explicitly specify in the lease agreement that two separate objects are being leased to the lessee and to also make that clear separately in the rental amount, in order to ensure, insofar as possible, that an adjustment of the rental price in line with fair market value does not result in a significant loss for the lessor.
Further information: Pieter Jonkers e-mail: email@example.com; tel. +31 20 578 52 56
Apartment owner can also qualify as an owner under the Estates Act 1928
An owner as defined in the Estates Act 1928 includes the owner of an immovable property that is not encumbered with a limited property right. Persons entitled to an apartment right, as well as co-owners, have joint ownership of an immovable property, in addition to an exclusive right of use for certain parts of the land and the building. The state secretary was of the opinion that the exclusive right of use of the apartment owners would encourage misuse: the facilities provided by the law might benefit the persons entitled to an apartment right who have an exclusive right of use for a part of the immovable property that, in itself, does not contribute to the maintenance or creation of areas of natural beauty. From this perspective, he did not wish to consider a group of apartment owners as `owners' in the sense referred to in the Estates Act 1928. However, the Council of State decided that apartment owners can also be considered `owners' in the sense referred to in the Estates Act 1928. The fact that there is a risk of unintended use is not sufficient grounds for a different decision.
In this regard, the Council of State noted that this risk is not present in the case judged by it. As a result, these apartment owners were also able to benefit from the various tax -related provisions of the Estates Act 1928.
Further information: Mike Rib e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; tel. +31 20 578 59 58
De Novitaris: will the disciplinary body follow the lead of the Supreme Court?
In its ruling on the `De Novitaris' case the Supreme Court provided guidelines on how a notary should deal with conflicting rights. In the De Novitaris case, it was a question of whether the notary should have refused his services for the deed of transfer, as B had sold a registered property to C, whereas he also had an obligation to offer it to A, an obligation which (apparently) had not been complied with. The judgement was (in brief) that, outside the control of the notary, a situation of conflicting interests had been created, whereby on the one hand (i) transfer of ownership to C would harm the rights and interests of A, but on the other hand (ii) failure to transfer ownership would harm the rights and interests of C. The notary must also act to promote the rights and interests of the latter. In the opinion of the Supreme Court, if such conflicting rights are involved, the notary should consult with the parties accordingly and, if necessary, investigate the matter further. The notary should let the rights of the third party prevail if the intended recipient does not have a legitimate interest in the transfer of ownership. This is the case if (a) the right of the third party is judged to be the stronger right under a legal regulation, or b) the intended recipient would be acting wrongfully towards the third party by requesting transfer of ownership To comply with the latter condition, it is not sufficient for the person transferring the property to be in default with respect to his obligations towards the third party. This rule gives the notary a great deal of flexibility in assisting with a requested transaction. However, it is an open question whether the disciplinary body for the notarial profession (the Division for Notarial Matters), which is usually stricter, will follow the lead of the Supreme Court. In a recent opinion, the Division for Notarial Matters seems to be inverting the rule formulated in the De Novitaris case. Whereas the Supreme Court emphasises that the notary has an obligation to provide assistance, the point of departure taken by the Division for Notarial Matters is that the notary must refuse to provide services if he knows that a transaction will lead to a default or wrongful act towards a third person. In the opinion of the Division, an exception must be made if the refusal to provide service will harm the legitimate interests of a party involved in the legal transaction, and the notary therefore comes to the conclusion that he should provide assistance. It is not yet clear whether this line of reasoning, in which the main guideline and the exception are reversed, will indeed become the approach taken by the Division for Notarial Matters, and whether this line of reasoning would be stricter. It is only a matter of time before a new case will come into view. It is to be hoped that the disciplinary body for the notarial profession will then explicitly follow the line of reasoning adopted by the civil courts, so that notaries in such situations will have a clearer idea of how to act.
Further information: Richard Schaefers e-mail: email@example.com; tel. +31 20 578 52 53
Energy performance fee for the letting of very energy-efficient residential property
On 1 September last, the `Decision on energy performance fees for rental' came into effect, which made it possible for lessors to agree on an energy performance fee with lessees if measures had been taken to ensure that the residential property in question was very energy-efficient. This applies, for example, to zero energy homes in which the net average amount of energy produced per year is equal to the amount consumed. By doing so, the Netherlands complied with a number of requirements from the European Directive on energy efficiency (2012/27/EU).
The new regulations make it clear when and for what amounts the investments made in energy-efficient homes can be charged to the lessees. For example, the regulations specify that the lessor must guarantee the `heat demand' of the home and the minimum, sustainable amount of energy produced by the home for the heating and energy needs of the lessee, and that he must inform the lessee accordingly when agreeing on the fee. A maximum amount is also set for the energy performance fee. Finally, the annual overview of service costs provided by the lessor most also include data on the amount of energy and heat provided by the home. For that purpose, the lessor must equip the home with a separate meter.
The type of home or date of construction is not relevant. An energy performance fee can also be agreed upon for new homes that meet the requirements specified. It is worth noting that the energy performance fee is not related to the rental or rental increase, that the fee is not taken into account for the housing benefit, and that a correction factor is applied to the number of valuation points for social housing properties in order to protect the lessee.
Further information: Margot Dadi-Tailleur e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; tel. +31 20 578 54 36
Leen van der Marel e-mail: email@example.com; tel. +31 20 578 52 32
Act Mobility Rental Market of 2015
Some provisions of the Act Mobility Rental Market of 2015 (`Wet doorstroming huurmarkt') came into effect on 1 July last and a number of provisions will come into effect on 1 January 2017. Attention: The new regulations do not apply to lease agreements that were entered into before the date on which the new legislation became effective.
The new legislation aims to improve the price/quality ratio, to encourage mobility in the rental market for residential properties, and to discourage people from living in rental properties, in the social housing sector as well as the private rental sector, with rents that are `out of step' with their actual income.
The most important changes are:
1. Broadening the possibilities for temporary lettings
As of 1 July 2016, the Act Mobility Rental Market broadened the possibilities for entering into temporary lease agreements. Since then, it has become possible: a. to enter into a lease agreement for a maximum of 2 years for self-contained residential space; and b. to enter into a lease agreement for a maximum of 5 years for shared residential space.
After the agreed period, these agreements end by operation of law. Although these lease agreements do not have to be cancelled, the lessor must inform the lessee that the lease agreement will end, no later than one month before the end of the agreed period but no sooner than three months beforehand. If the lessor does not do so or does not do so in a timely fashion or if the lessor, after the agreed period, again enters into a lease agreement, regardless of whether the new agreement is for a limited period of time or is for an indefinite period of time, the lease agreement will be considered as having been extended for an indefinite period of time.
In spite of the fact that the parties enter into a lease agreement for a limited period of time, the lessee has the right to cancel the temporary lease agreement prematurely.
It should be noted that housing corporations and approved institutions are limited in the options they have for entering into lease agreements for a shorter period, or agreements that are of a short-term nature, for certain properties in the social housing sector.
2. Assessment of initial rental price
Until 1 July, the lessee had until 6 months after the starting date of the lease agreement to have the rental price assessed by the Rent Assessment Committee. As of 1 July 2016, this rental price assessment can be done until 6 months after the end of the lease agreement for a limited period of time, if it involves an agreement for residential space for a period of 2 years or less. In fact, this is until 6 months after the date on which a regular lease agreement with tenancy protection went into effect.
3. Broadening of grounds for cancellation based on urgent own use.
The grounds for cancellation based on urgent own use have been further broadened. Until 1 July 2016, tenancy law defined the following target groups: seniors, handicapped persons, and students. The Act Mobility Rental Market adds the following target groups: younger persons, PhD candidates, and large families. The lease agreement can be cancelled if the tenant no longer belongs to the applicable target group. a. The lease agreement for a residential unit intended for younger persons (between the age of 18 and 28) can be
cancelled if the tenant is older than 28 years and the lease agreement has lasted for a minimum of 5 years (or 7 years if it was renewed); b. The lease agreement for a residential unit intended for PhD candidates can be cancelled as soon as the tenant can no longer provide evidence that he or she is working on a PhD thesis at a university; and c. The lease agreement for a residential unit intended for large families (at least 8 persons) can be cancelled if fewer than 5 persons are registered as living in the rented property in question.
4. Diplomat clause
As of 1 July, the modification and expansion of the so-called `diplomat clause' (interim letting of a residential property in the absence of the owner/tenant, until the owner or previous tenant returns) also came into effect. Whereas until 1 July last, only one interim rental period was possible, as of 1 July, it became possible to let the property for several successive periods. The lessor can agree with the tenant and each successive tenant that the residential property must be vacated after the period of time agreed upon in the eviction clause. The residential property must be vacated if the lessor wishes to move into the property himself or if he wishes to allow a previous tenant to move back into the property.
5. Expansion of the Vacant Property Act (`Leegstandwet')
As of 1 July, a new category of residential space was included in the Vacant Property Act, namely `rental housing intended for sale', which can be temporarily let out with a Vacant Property Act permit. For such rentals, the tenant only has limited tenancy protection. The minimum duration of this lease agreement is 3 months, and the period of notice for the lessor is a minimum of 2 months. The normal periods for the awarding of permits apply to this new category of temporary rentals: a maximum of 2 years with the option of renewal for successive periods of 1 year each, whereby the total duration of the permit may not exceed 5 years.
6. Income test every three years and differentiation of rents by income
As of 1 January 2017, the so-called differentiation of rents by income will apply to the social housing sector. This is a new method for the indexation of the rents for social housing, to replace the present income-dependent method for rental increases. The essence of the differentiation of rents by income is that the total rental increase for a tenant in the social housing sector is limited to a maximum, but that flexibility is introduced to allow for differentiation of the rental increase at the level of the individual residential unit. This makes it possible to create a better match between the rental increase and the fair market value/quality of the residential unit. To prevent misuse of social housing (so-called `scheefwonen') (tenants with higher incomes living in properties intended for low-income groups), an income test will become mandatory every three years as of 1 January 2017. Households with at least 1 pensioner and households of 4 persons or more are excluded from the mandatory income test. The Act Mobility Rental Market provides flexibility and ample opportunities for investors to obtain access to residential properties (earlier) for the purpose of uitpond financing (sale of rented property to sitting tenants), renovation, or reletting. Due in part to the introduction of the rental sum approach, the new legislation may also provide additional opportunities for optimising the return on residential housing portfolios. Further information: Margot Dadi-Tailleur e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; tel. +31 20 578 54 36 Steven Lucas e-mail: email@example.com; tel. +31 20 578 52 46 TOP
Budget Day: 2017 Tax Plan
On Tuesday, 20 September, the government submitted its 2017 Tax Plan and related legislative proposals to the House of Representatives. Some elements of these tax bills relate to real estate practice and may be relevant to you:
Modification of the definition of "building site" in line with European law
Although the supply of property is in general exempt from VAT, the supply of a building site is liable to VAT based on European VAT rules. In recent years, the Dutch interpretation of the term `building site' for charging VAT has, on several occasions, been the subject of national and European legal proceedings.
These proceedings have shown that the Netherlands' interpretation of the term `building site' is too narrow. In the Netherlands, undeveloped land could only be termed a `building site' if activities with a view to the future construction had been carried out already. From the European perspective, it is sufficient to prove that development is intended. The Tax Plan 2017 included a proposal which should eliminate the difference between the Dutch interpretation and the European interpretation.
If the bill is adopted, then the classification of `building site' can be given to any area that is undeveloped land or that will be turned into undeveloped land by the seller, and which is demonstrably intended for development. The supply of such land by a VAT taxable person will then be liable to VAT and the acquirer will then be exempt from transfer tax with regard to the corresponding acquisition.
VAT refunds for bad debts
The intention of simplifying the procedure for reclaiming VAT on bad debts has been realised in the proposed Fiscal Simplication Bill 2017. The purpose of the bill is to simplify the procedure for claiming a VAT refund effective from 1 January 2017 and to give business owners greater certainty about the refund procedure. The reason is that the current rules are perceived as time-consuming and complicated. The main aspects of the proposed bill are:
The right to a refund arises in any case if an invoice is still outstanding one year after it fell due.
The VAT on bad debts to be refunded by the Dutch tax authorities can be included in the periodic VAT return. It will therefore no longer be necessary to submit a separate application.
If a bad debt is collected at a later date, the VAT already refunded should then be paid back to the Dutch tax authorities. If a receivable is transferred (e.g. in the context of factoring), the transferee steps into the shoes of the transferor with regard to the VAT refund provision. With this type of acquisition, the transferee - if there is an entitlement to a refund - must still submit a separate application. For this application, the above mechanism of reclaiming via the periodic VAT return does not apply.
By means of a transitional arrangement, the new rules will also apply to receivables that were due before 1 January 2017, provided that the one-year period starts to run on 1 January 2017.
`European' building site also exempt from transfer tax
The new statutory definition of `building site' will only be applicable from 1 January 2017. Before then, a site that does not qualify as a building site according to the current Dutch statutory definition, could however qualify as a building site according to European jurisprudence. In strict application of the so-called `concurrence exemption', it would be possible to acquire a `European' building site that is not exempt from transfer tax.
Previously, the Court of Zeeland-West Brabant ruled that this practice does not do justice to the object and purpose of the concurrence exemption. The Secretary of State has endorsed this view by adopting a policy decision, whereby subject to certain conditions, the concurrent exemption for transfer tax also applies to the acquisition of a European building site. The policy change entered into force on the date of this ruling (17 December 2015). More information: Jrme Germann e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; tel. +31 20 578 59 71
Luca van Silfhout e-mail: email@example.com; tel. +31 20 578 52 92
Developers may run more risks when buying an existing building without risk of transfer tax
On 17 June 2016, the Supreme Court handed down an interesting judgment. We informed you about that in our flash on the same date. The judgment shows that project developers have more opportunities of to tax efficiently buy buildings intended for demolition than previously assumed.
According to the Supreme Court, transfer tax is not due if the buyer demolishes a building and makes the land ready for construction on behalf of the seller. Transfer tax is not even due if the costs of demolition and preparing the site are borne by the buyer. More information: Ynze van der Tempel e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; tel. +31 20 578 66 64
Jrme Germann e-mail: email@example.com; tel. +31 20 578 59 71
Option for VAT-taxed lease did not hold out
it is widely known in real estate practice, that property lettings are generally exempt from VAT, as is the fact that the lessor and lessee (under certain conditions) can opt for a VAT-taxable lease. In order to opt for a VAT-taxable lease, certain formal requirements must be met, which over the years have undergone numerous changes.
The importance of compliance with the formal requirements has been further underlined by a recent ruling given by the Court of Arnhem / Leeuwarden. The Court connected the breach of the formal requirements with the consequence of retroactively considering the lease exempt from VAT, whereby the owner was only able to claim back a lower amount of VAT.
To avoid unpleasant surprises, it is therefore necessary to scrupulously comply with all formal requirements for a VATtaxable lease.
More information: Jrme Germann e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; tel. +31 20 578 59 71
Luca van Silfhout e-mail: email@example.com; tel. +31 20 578 52 92
New publication: Building in the Netherlands
All kinds of changes are taking place in Dutch construction law. Additionally, the building and project development practice in the Netherlands faces a vast number of significant developments. Interesting trends are the redevelopment of existing buildings and the sustainability of real estate. These trends are expected to continue in the coming years. The building projects and the market (parties) demand innovation both at a technical level and as regards contracting. Changes to statutory regulations and new regulations, partly initiated by Europe, are also taking place in rapid succession. In the field of tax and employment law, commissioning parties and even investors/purchasers of new build real estate have to be aware of the possible risks of recipients' and chain liabilities.
Click here to order the book or to download the pdf or the e-book.
More information: Timo Huisman e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; tel. +31 20 578 58 71
Jurriaan van der Stok e-mail: email@example.com; tel. +31 20 578 65 55
Jrme Germann e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; tel. +31 20 578 59 71
The Real Estate newsletter is published by Loyens & Loeff's Real Estate practice group. This group pools its specialist knowledge in civil law areas as diverse as civil engineering law, administrative law, spatial planning law, competition and procurement law, corporate law and financing, as well as in direct and indirect taxes. This newsletter is sent exclusively to Loyens & Loeff clients. Although this publication has been compiled with great care, Loyens & Loeff N.V. and all other entities, partnerships, persons and practices trading under the name `Loyens & Loeff', cannot accept any liability for the consequences of making use of this issue without their cooperation. The information provided is intended as general information and cannot be regarded as advice.