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The firm

Shearwaters is a highly experienced boutique firm offering expert advice to large internationally operating corporates, financial services clients and 'high-profile individuals' on Dutch corporate employment law. The firm has a deep bench of seasoned practitioners who handle both contentious and non-contentious matters, with marked success in complex litigation.

Shearwaters is the unique boutique firm in the Netherlands, as its sole focus is on Dutch corporate employment law in the international business environment. Its fee-earners have gained some 90 years of joint relevant experience at some of the world's premier law firms and at major corporate Shell.

The firm works from Amsterdam's financial district (Zuidas) and helps its clients navigate through the complexities of Dutch corporate employment law by providing transactional support, strategic advice and litigation capabilities.

The firm is particularly adept at advising clients on collective redundancies and reorganizations (including negotiations with trade unions on social plans), works council consultation processes, executive remuneration and delicate (executive and senior) dismissals.

Independent global legal directories Chambers and Partners, Acritas and The Legal 500 (EMEA) Series recognize, recommend and/or rank Shearwaters and its lawyers as a leading firm with leading experts. In addition, the firm was shortlisted in the category "European specialist firm of the year" at The Lawyer European Awards in 2017.

Since its inception in 2015, Shearwaters has grown to a team of five lawyers which equals or exceeds the employment law capability of most full-service firms in the Netherlands. Not only in size, but also and perhaps more importantly: in experience and expertise.

The firm is best known for consistently delivering a seasoned team of lawyers with a strong track record. Additional strengths include fostering personal relationships with companies and executives, being consistent, pragmatic, business-oriented, focused, well networked, getting things done, cutting through to key issues and providing sound judgement, not just technical expertise.

Areas of practice


Employment: A recent example of the corporate employment law work undertaken at the firm includes landing a Court of Appeal ruling which confirmed the already obtained lower court ordered dismissal of a high-profile managing director under new and stricter Dutch dismissal rules. This Court of Appeal ruling was long awaited by Dutch employment law practitioners and clients alike and is significant because it marks the very first Dutch court decision on delicate and complex dismissals of managing directors under current Dutch dismissals laws.

The Court of Appeal agreed with the firm's client (a leading international paper manufacturer) that an irreconcilable difference of opinion between all stakeholders on the organizational and management structure of the company qualifies as a reasonable ground for dismissal. The fact that the managing director was ill did not prevent his dismissal since the illness was unrelated to the company's request for the dismissal. This mandate reflects the strength of Shearwaters' strategic advice and litigation capabilities, next to its other pillar, providing first-class support in M&A deals.

Other recent examples of our work include: advising corporate law/M&A boutiques and international firms on the employment aspects of various M&A transactions and numerous restructurings, advising an international, Norwegian stock-listed, technology corporation on restrictive covenants and individual dismissals for urgent cause; advising a dual-listed Australian-British multinational and one of the world's largest metals and mining corporations on individual dismissals and on employment aspects to their restructuring of its Dutch business activities; advising a well-known European cosmetics brand on Dutch employment law (i.a. on the delicate dismissal of a prominent board member); advising various companies on all aspects of Dutch employment law related to their 'top executives', (e.g. on remuneration issues, (non-compete and other) restrictive covenants, individual dismissals, group dismissals, collective dismissals, etc.).

  • Number of lawyers: 50+
  • at this office: 5
  • Languages
  • English
  • German
  • Dutch
  • Member
  • Informal global network of boutique firms across Europe and beyond
  • based on the Linklaters and Baker McKenzie alumni networks

Above material supplied by Shearwaters.

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