Dutch bar plans to end Hague’s reign

The Dutch National Bar Association is preparing the final touches to plans that will see an end to The Hague bar’s monopoly on Supreme Court litigation.

Currently, only lawyers registered with The Hague bar and located in the city can practise in the Supreme Court. The national bar (Nederlandse Orde van Advocaten) is proposing a relaxation of rules that it sees as monopolistic and archaic.

It is suggesting the creation of what Els Unger, the president of the association, called a “special” bar that would allow lawyers to appear in Supreme Court cases regardless of where they were based. Lawyers would have to pass a new exam to ensure they were of sufficient quality to appear, but the geographical restrictions would end.

“There’s pressure on the Dutch government from Brussels to change this, as there are no good arguments for it anymore,” said Unger. “The Ministry [of Justice] seems willing to change it and our plans should be presented within three months.”

A small number of firms have Supreme Court practices, including De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek, Houthoff Buruma and Pels Rijcken & Droogleever Fortuijn, as well as smaller outfits such as BarentsKrans and professional liability boutique Ekelmans & Meijer Advocaten. De Brauw will be particularly keen to see the changes pushed through, as it is committed to closing its office in The Hague by 2008.