Steven Ongena Partner

For more than 20 years, Steven has been assisting clients with thoughtful and responsive counselling. Steven has developed strong client relationships in real estate, retail and commercial litigation. Steven explains to clients the practical implications of the law, as well as the prevailing market standards and expectations, going beyond strictly legal considerations.

Steven’s real estate practice focuses on long term projects which often imply a client relocating its headquarters or production facilities. Clients range from large corporations to governments (both local and foreign). Steven advises on diverse transactions, covering the full spectrum of legal instruments available (acquisitions in full ownership, transfers of rights in rem, VAT leases, etc.). In many instances, the transactions also include a construction component as many contracts relate to premises to be developed. Legal 500 has recommended McGuireWoods’ Brussels real estate practice, and Steven personally, over the last five consecutive years (2014 till present).

Steven has assisted in developing McGuireWoods’ Brussels retail practice. The practice includes some of the world’s most prestigious brands and covers a broad variety of sectors (clothing, cosmetics, food & beverage, car industry, etc.). The practice captures the entire retail life cycle from developing a network, managing the network (including fair trade practices) and restructuring a network. Steven’s retail practice comprises both developments through third parties (agents, franchisees and distributors), as well as through own operated sales points. In order to assist clients with the management of their sales points, McGuireWoods has developed a software tool issuing reminders for upcoming renewals, break options and rent revisions. Legal 500 has systematically recommended McGuireWoods’ Brussels retail practice and Steven personally as leading, since reporting on this practice area (2016 till present).

Steven’s litigation practice focuses on contractual disputes with an emphasis on termination disputes under distribution agreements. Also, Steven regularly represents clients in lease renewals, which may include a contentious phase in the event landlord and tenant disagree on the terms of renewal. Typically, Steven’s cases will involve a cross-border component.


Representation of a Belgian, state owned legal entity in the negotiations of a Design Build Finance and Maintain Agreement for the redevelopment of the official seat of an international institution based in Brussels (capital expenditure for the parties is in excess of 300 M EUR), covering the project from MoU phase till practical completion.

Representation of a G-7 state in a large relocation project relating to its diplomatic mission to Belgium and to the European Union. The transaction includes amongst others, the conclusion of a long term usufruct agreement regarding premises of 3.500 sqm in the central business and administrative district of Brussels and the substantial fit-out of the premises by the owner prior to occupation.

Representation of a NYSE listed industrial group in the disposal of its owned production facilities and offices and the subsequent relocation of its European Headquarters to leased premises under development.

Representation of a global, multi-brand, US based retailer in the development and management of its Belgian retail network covering all major Belgian cities and various types of sales points (high streets, malls, retail outlets…).

Representation of a Dutch company, acting as a national dealer of rolling equipment, before the Belgian and Dutch courts against its principal, successfully obtaining a specific performance order in interim measures under a distribution agreement, subsequently confirmed on the merits.

  • Brussels
  • Ecole Solvay Brussels, Postgraduate Certificate, Real Estate, 2005
  • King’s College London, LLM, 1995
  • K.U.Leuven, Licentiaat in de rechten, cum laude, 1994
  • K.U.Leuven, BA, Philosophy, 1992
  • Dutch
  • English
  • French
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