The Dutch Bar is close to an agreement with accountancy firm Ernst & Young that could lead to multidisciplinary practices in the country.
The Bar is understood to be willing to allow the firm's tax lawyers to profit share with its allied Dutch law firms – Banning Van Kemenade & Holland and Van Benthem & Keulen.
Hans van Gyzen, chairman of E&Y's Rotterdam-based 60-business lawyer partnership, said the firm planned to merge the firms into one single entity by the end of the year.
But the agreement will not affect the legal action being taken by local Bars against Arthur Andersen and PricewaterhouseCoopers over the two firms' plans to develop integrated legal practices.
Unlike at E&Y, lawyers and accountants at the two firms are closely connected. The Bar wishes to maintain its ban on accountants working with lawyers. But if the Bar does strike a deal with E&Y, Deloittes Touche Tohmatsu – which operates a similar federal structure – also stands to gain from it.
Deloittes has just announced an alliance with 40-lawyer Eindhoven-based Prinsen van der Putt. From 1 January, Prinsen will merge with Deloittes' existing ally Van Anken Knuppe Damstra.
Deloittes spokesman Willem Troost said it planned to create a top five practice in the Netherlands and was talking to a firm in the Hague/ Amsterdam region.