Sanctions & Export Controls

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We align corporate goals with legal compliance

We assist our clients with their matters in the field of international trade, economic sanctions and export control regulations, helping them to navigate the complex patchwork of these regulations which are known for rapid change, overlap, broad scope and strict enforcement. We advise on the permissibility of transactions and the applicability of license requirements and other restrictions. If so desired, we assist clients in obtaining the necessary clearance from authorities, ranging from classification decisions to export licenses.

We also regularly conduct internal investigations into economic sanctions and export control related matters. We have ample experience in representing clients in economic sanctions and export controls related enforcement matters vis-à-vis various regulatory and criminal authorities. These include the:

  • U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC),
  • U.S. Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS),
  • Department of Justice (DoJ),
  • Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs; and
  • Dutch Central Department for Import and Export (CDIU).

We also advise a range of financial institutions on the specific requirements that apply to them in relation to economic sanctions and related governance issues, closely cooperating with our colleagues in our Financial Markets Regulation practice. Similarly, together with our M&A and Competition colleagues, we advise on transactions and foreign direct investment screening relating to strategic investments, notably those involving sensitive technologies.

As matters in this field often involve various jurisdictions, we keep close ties with specialised foreign counsel, including in the U.S. and the U.K., while the quickly evolving developments in China are covered by our own Shanghai office.

Our clients include multinational corporates and financials, based in the Netherlands and abroad. Clients value our advice for our multidisciplinary approach and ability to provide effective solutions, aligning corporate and commercial goals with legal compliance. In enforcement matters they choose us for our broad, multinational experience and ability to handle cross-border internal and regulatory investigations in close coordination with foreign counsel and authorities.


19 January 2022

EU court addresses Blocking Statute's Catch-22, but important questions remain

The Blocking Statute prohibits EU persons from complying with certain US sanctions against Cuba and Iran. In its first ever preliminary ruling on the topic, the CJEU found that the termination of a contract that violates this prohibition does not necessarily need to be annulled if this would have a disproportionate effect on the terminating party. This ruling seems to somewhat ease the dilemma of EU companies that want to end contracts to avoid potentially severe US sanction enforcement measures. How this will work out in practice remains to be seen. But companies terminating contracts to comply with US sanctions may still face other measures, such as monetary penalties, that aim to protect the interests of the affected counterparties to a contract.
23 June 2021

China's new law countering foreign sanctions adds to conflicting compliance requirements

China recently enacted a new law - effective from 10 June 2021 - to protect China's nationals and organisations from discriminatory restrictive measures imposed by foreign countries. It provides for the compilation of a Countermeasure List of parties involved with the enacting of such foreign restrictive measures and some of their affiliates, against which countermeasures can be imposed. These include deportation from China or the freezing of property within Chinese territory. The new law requires the implementation of these countermeasures and prohibits implementation of foreign restrictive measures. This means that international business may again be confronted with conflicting compliance requirements under Chinese and foreign sanctions and other restrictive measures. Multinational companies are therefore advised to closely follow further developments and take preparatory measures to mitigate their risk.
14 June 2021

Recast of the EU Dual-Use Regulation set to enter into force on 9 September 2021

On 11 June 2021, the new EU Dual-Use Regulation 2021/821 was published in the EU Official Journal, set to replace current Regulation 428/2009 of 5 May 2009 setting up a Community regime for the control of exports, transfer, brokering and transit of dual use-items. Often referred to as the Recast, it will enter into force on 9 September 2021. While it introduces additional controls, the Recast is much less ambitious in scope than the European Commission had originally envisaged, particularly in terms of addressing the human rights aspects of export controls and the lack of a level playing field due to differences in interpretation, application and enforcement among the Member States. Even so, it expands the range of general export authorisations available, reducing the administrative burden for exporters of relevant items. Companies involved with dual-use items are recommended to take note of the changes and to assess any implications and benefits that these may have on their business.