KPMG dumps Dutch legal arm as £12m handout goes down the drain

KPMG is reducing its legal capability in the Netherlands after pulling the plug on loans of millions of euros to its Dutch legal practice Steins Bisschop Meijburg & Co

The Lawyer understands that KPMG lent the firm more than e20m (£12.25m) under a 1999 agreement, entered into when the legal practice was launched. The money was repayable when the firm was profitable enough. The Lawyer understands that KPMG refused to continue paying the firm’s salaries this year.
Steins Bisschop effectively became bankrupt after the cancellation of a joint account with KPMG. Last month it started summary proceedings against the accountant to force it to pay salaries for March and April. The firm had 21 partners, 67 other lawyers and 17 notaries.
KPMG has now reached an agreement under which nine of the partners will set up a practice branded as KLegal. It is understood that the firm’s former name partner Rondom Bas Steins Bisschop will not join and that it will be led by partner Rob Faasen.
A spokesperson for the accountant said: “There’s a restructuring going on of the Steins Bisschop practice and that will take place shortly. The new practice is expected to be launched next week under the name KLegal and will consist of nine partners.”
The accountant would not comment on the figures it loaned to Steins Bisschop.
News of the split comes just weeks after the European Court of Justice ruled that the Netherlands (and by precedent other member states) has the right to prevent lawyers entering into multidisciplinary partnerships with accountants, even though it accepts that this may restrict competition in legal services.
One partner at the Amsterdam office of a magic circle firm said Dutch lawyers were surprised by how serious the situation had become. “People have been sceptical from the beginning [about accountancy-linked practices], but we wouldn’t have guessed that they would be so loss-making or that they’d be dropped by the accountancy firms,” he said.”It’s clear the business wasn’t able to support itself and had been founded from the beginning on the promise of some time breaking even.”