Short biography (for full CV see here)
An alumnus of the College of Europe, Bruges (promotion Stefan Zweig), Professor Dr Geert van Calster is an independent legal practitioner at the Belgian Bar. His boutique practice focus is on conflict of laws (private international law), EU and international regulatory law (especially environment), and international and EU economic law.
Geert is full professor (professor ordinarius) in the University of Leuven where for 11 years (2009-2020) he served as Head of Leuven Law’s department of European and international law. Geert is also senior fellow at Leuven’s Centre for Global Governance Studies.
Geert is on the indicative list of WTO Panelists.
Prof van Calster is a visiting professor and senior fellow at Monash University’s Law faculty (Melbourne), visiting professor at the China-EU School of Law in Beijing, visiting professor at King’s College, London, and adjunct professor at American University. He was previously i.a. a visiting lecturer at Oxford University. He was called to the Bar in 1999 after having worked as of counsel to a City law firm since 1995.
For surface mail address, room in college and mobile number please see here.
In the standard reference guide the EU Legal 500, Geert is named as being “well regarded for the interface between economic and regulatory law”, and as having an “excellent academic background aligned to pragmatic experience in both public and private sectors.” Geert’s advice is referred in it as being ‘practical, fast and relevant’. Prof van Calster’s unique proposition lies indeed in the combination of a solid knowledge and know-how of core European institutional and economic law, with conflict of laws and regulatory law, in particular environmental law.
Conflict of laws. In conflict of laws /private international law, Geert is specifically interested in the impact of European harmonisation of all stages of private international law, on residual PIL of the Member States, and the potential for regulatory competition in international dispute resolution. Tensions between common and civil law approaches to conflict of laws play a central role in this analysis and expertise.
Geert’s recent instructions in the area include
- German court expert opinion on Belgian conflict of laws and matrimonial property (in particular: pension rights)
- counsel for Belgium in CJEU C-265/21 (limits to forum contractus)
- expert advice on international travel law (liability in tort)
- co-counsel in high profile litigation through the UK courts on business and human rights (jurisdiction and applicable law): Municipio de Mariana and ors v BHP Group, which features in The Lawyer’s Top 20 Cases list for 2020;
- litigation on jurisdiction and applicable law in medical liability and insurance;
- instruction on the applicable law issues in Hamida Begum v Maran UK;
- expert evidence on the recognition outside of the UK of English law ‘Restructuring Plans’ – the UK’s answer to continental schemes of arrangements which in turn mimicked English schemes of arrangement;
- co-counsel on recognition and enforcement of Israeli judgments into the EU;
- business and human rights obligations under Belgian law;
- jurisdictional provisions regarding Data Protection Authorities and social media companies;
- the extraterritorial reach of the EU’s ‘right to be forgotten’;
- various appearances as court expert in England and Wales on the recognition and enforcement of English Schemes of Arrangement;
- applicable law and jurisdiction for collective labour agreements;
- applicable law and jurisdiction in competition law (‘antitrust’ follow-up and follow-on damages cases).
Environment, health and safety. Geert’s specific expertise in environmental and natural resources law is well illustrated by his having been the co-founder and, for 10 years, director of studies of KU Leuven’s successful and unique Master of Energy and Environmental Law program. Geert served as member of the European Commission’s SAPEA Consortium (Science Advice for Policy by European Academies) Working Group on micro and nano plastics, and is ad hoc expert to the compliance review mechanism of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development – EBRD.
Geert’s recent practice instructions include
- advice on PFAS, PFOS ‘forever chemicals’ regulation in the EU
- expert opinion for Dutch court on export of wastes within the EU
- reporting duties and statistics under the Water Framework Directive
- scope of a public needs analysis in international and comparative product regulation
- the implementation of the Aarhus Convention in the EU;
- export and import of hazardous waste in the EU;
- legal requirements for the circular economy;
- existence of and need for notification of State aid for environmental purposes.
EU and international economic and trade law. Geert was one of the first analysts of the impact of international trade law (GATT and WTO Agreements) on regulatory autonomy, including environmental protection. He has built up specific expertise on the trade /regulation interface, looking especially at the GATT (including border tax adjustments, customs and excise), TBT and SPS Agreements. He is member of the Panel of Experts for the Trade and Sustainable Development Chapter of many EU FTAs. In April 2014, Geert was added to the World Trade Organisation’s Indicative List of Panelists, at the request of the EU.
Geert’s recent instructions include
- expert opinion in ICSID litigation on the impact of CJEU Achmea, Komstroy;
- advice on the constraints of an important ban in the food and feed sector;
- advice on export sanctions (viz individuals, natural persons) involving disagreement between the EU and a non-EU Member State on issues of public international law;
- advice on trade unions and EU competition law;
- multidisciplinary practices and free movement of services;
- a restrictive regime for wholesale pharmaceuticals distribution in a Member State;
- the (il)legality of windfall taxation in the energy sector;
- the application of EU rules of origin (particularly in the Middle East);
- the application of the EU’s GSP regime;
- import of waste into the EU (for use in the renewable energy sector);
- territorial limitations in insurance contracts;
- the interface between religious rights and animal welfare;
- human rights and rule of law issues in the EU’s external trade policy;
- State aid and competition law in the environment sector.
Climate change law. Prof van Calster has advised a variety of States and stakeholders on the impact of international trade law on climate change, including climate change levies – most recently for California’s Insurance Commissioner; he has also advised on the EU’s heads of powers viz ICAO’s ‘Corsia’ regime. More generally he has researched the optimal design of climate change responses, over and above and /or indeed outside of emission trading schemes. Regulatory innovation, including in the climate change area, was the cornerstone of the research that earned him a tenured research chair at KU Leuven.