Pressure mounts to ease Dutch MDP rules

ERNST & Young has joined Price Waterhouse and Arthur Anderson in trying to set up multidisciplinary practices in the Netherlands.

Moret Ernst & Young Tax Advisors, the largest firm of tax advisers in the Netherlands, has drawn up a contract to share profits and losses in what it calls a “strategic alliance” with Eindhoven and Hertogenbosch-based lawyers, and public notaries Banning Van Kemenade & Holland.

It has asked the Dutch Bar Association to check it complies with Bar regulations.

The Dutch Bar rules state that partnerships between law firms and non-law firms are not allowed. Frederik Heemskerk, secretary general of the Dutch Bar Association, said: “The question is whether this contract sets up a partnership.

“The local Bar association may insist that a clause about the sharing of profit and loss will have to be deleted.”

Wicher Hooites, office manager of Banning Van Kamenade, said the two companies already refer clients to each other under a commercial agreement set up at the end of April. “This contract tightens the ropes between us. But we will abide by the decision of the Dutch Bar.”

Moret Ernst & Young spokesman Philip van Leeuwen said: “Both firms believe the alliance will enhance the quality of their services.”

The alliance will focus on the southern Netherlands.

Price Waterhouse and Arthur Anderson have both filed complaints with the Dutch Commercial Court over the Dutch Bar rules that prevent accountancy firms associating with law firms.