…as Netherlands merger creates top five practice

Ernst & Young's three associated law firms in Holland are to merge, creating a top five Dutch practice.

The firms, Van Gijzen Advocaten, Banning Van Kemenade & Holland and Van Benthem & Keulen, will become a single firm on 1 September.

The new firm, to be called Holland CS, will have more than 175 lawyers which, following the break up of Loeff Claeys Verbeke, will be the fifth largest firm in the country.

In March, Ernst & Young managed to reach an agreement with the Dutch Bar Association which allows its tax consultancy unit to share the profits with the law firms.

The lawyers must be kept insulated from the tax consultancy's separate profit-sharing relationship with the accountants within the Ernst & Young group partnership.

Bob Wessels, chairman of the Ernst & Young law practice and a senior partner in the new firm, says: “We would like to have some form of single branding.

“But I'm not sighing, whining or weeping. We see MDPs as inevitable in two or three years from now.”

Holland CS will concentrate on corporate, contract, IT and labour law.

He adds: “The domestic practices of the individual firms will continue to work with their own clients as before.”