The task of the lawyer is to guarantee that the legal position of their clients is not prejudiced. To that end, lawyers provide legal opinions and represent their clients in legal disputes and in court.
Lawyers have an obligation to observe confidentiality vis-à-vis their clients and can claim privilege. In other words: lawyers need not disclose any information obtained from clients to the court. Lawyers primarily work within the district in which they are registered, but they are authorised to work in every district court and court of appeal.
People that have civil cases heard by the sub-district court (kantonrechter) need not retain the services of a lawyer. In all other civil cases, (before a district court, court of appeal or the Supreme Court), citizens have to be represented by counsel. This is referred to as mandatory legal representation (verplichte procesvertegenwoordiging).
People with relatively little income qualify for legal aid (see legal aid fact sheet). A lawyer will be assigned to them. That means that the lawyer’s fee will be paid by the government. The person seeking justice merely pays a contribution, the amount depending on the person’s income and other assets.
Anyone who has obtained a law degree from a Dutch university may be admitted to the bar.
During the first three years of being admitted to the bar, lawyers are obliged to practice law as a trainee under supervision of another lawyer. This means that you cannot become a lawyer unless you find another lawyer who is prepared to train you. Lawyers from other EU countries may apply for admission to the Dutch bar, if they comply with the relevant European directives. Lawyers from another Member State who occasionally render their services in another Member State may do so, provided that they work together with local counsel.
The lawyer is an independent professional (vrije beroepsbeoefenaar).
Rules governing the profession, their powers, appointment and disbarment are provided for in the Dutch Act on Advocates (Advocatenwet) and several decrees and by-laws, including the 1998 By-law on Bookkeeping (Boekhoudverordening 1998), the By-law on the Financial Contribution (Verordening op de financiële bijdrage) and the By-law on Professional Practice (Verordening op de praktijkuitoefening).
Pursuant to the law, every lawyer practising in the Netherlands is a member of the Dutch Bar Association (Nederlandse Orde van Advocaten or NOvA). The lawyers are subject to disciplinary proceedings.
The tasks of this professional organization defined by law are to ensure the quality of the services rendered by its members. This includes:
- An extensive training programme for bar members
- Drawing up by-laws and other binding rules for lawyers
- Disciplinary proceedings
- Information and services to its members
- Recommendations to the government on policy plans and bills
- Apart from membership of the Dutch Bar Association, many lawyers are also a member of a professional association specializing in a specific legal field. These lawyers have specialized in a particular field of law, such as family law, social-security law, employment law, criminal law or tenancy law.
These experts usually join forces in an association, which can be found on www.advocatenorde.nl/advocaten/adressen_en_ledenlijst.asp Nederlands
More information on the legal profession can be found on www.advocatenorde.nl
If you live abroad and have trouble finding a lawyer in the Netherlands, you can contact the Legal Aid Council (Raad voor rechtsbijstand) in The Hague. Details are listed in the legal aid fact sheet under 6.
So if you are in a civil proceeding and in a sub-district court you don't need to retain a counsel otherwise you would need to be a member of the Bar to argue before the court. It is possible that the administrative law may have the same but I can't find the confirmation of this.