Freshfields reveals plans to go Dutch

FRESHFIELDS is understood to be in takeover talks with a Dutch law firm about opening an office in Amsterdam, The Lawyer can reveal.

Freshfields managing partner Ian Terry confirms the firm is planning a move.

“We are, and have been, looking at the Dutch legal market for a long time, but we have yet to make an announcement,” he says.

Experts say an international law firm planning to enter the legal market in The Netherlands would have to hire local lawyers or enter into an alliance with a Dutch firm to operate effectively.

A source at rival Clifford Chance, which is well established in Amsterdam, comments: “It is difficult to assess what the implications would be. It depends on how it plans to tackle things. Co-operative schemes between Dutch and UK firms have been tried before and failed – with the exception of Linklaters.

“But The Netherlands is an interesting market.”

Dolph Stuyling de Lange of Dutch-Belgian firm Loeff Claeys Verbeke, says: “We are waiting to see what will happen. So far, it is just Clifford Chance and Baker & McKenzie.”

Dutch firms are also watching developments at Linklaters & Alliance. They expect to see Linklaters'

London lawyers join their alliance partners at Dutch law firm De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek.

Freshfields' Dutch venture is likely to be spearheaded by Peter Van Welzen, the senior associate and manager in the corporate department in London.