Legal Market Overview
The Netherlands continues to be an attractive market for businesses and in the past year has benefitted from companies transferring some of their operations there. At the time of writing, this is in part a response to uncertainties caused by Brexit but more so because the Dutch legal profession has a reputation for being pragmatic and efficient.
Following the appointment of a new chair at the Authority for Consumers & Markets in September 2018, a change in approach to enforcement is developing and lawyers have also reported an increase in cartel-related litigation. There has been noted activity in the telecoms industry – KPN’s merger with Reggefiber being a recent contested example.
In banking and finance, refinancing, alongside restructurings, continue apace and private equity houses generate considerable mid- and high-value transactions. Construction and infrastructure work is buoyant and it is reported to be a contractor’s market. With climate change in mind, work around off and onshore wind farms, some solar and waste to energy projects, and dyke reinforcements are a focus. There are also major road and port constructions ongoing together with prestigious projects including the new European Patent office in the Hague and data centre builds. Additionally, high demand in the residential property market continues.
Parties to international disputes are attracted to the Netherlands in part thanks to the recently established International Commercial Court. There has been an emergence of class actions, driven by US firms and litigation funders which see the Netherlands are relatively less expensive than other jurisdictions and has a trust court system to boot.
Data protection, privacy, and cyber security are some of the growing areas of concern and firms continue to be occupied assisting clients with GDPR compliance.
Some of the largest, full-service Dutch firms in the market are De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek, Loyens & Loeff, NautaDutilh, and Stibbe. Houthoff and Van Doorne are also major firms of note, and Pels Rijcken & Droogleever Fortuijn NV is well known for its track record advising the Dutch state across various practice areas and for its Supreme Court work.
There are also highly specialised firms in the market, including HabrakenRutten in construction/infrastructure; Hoogenraad & Haak, advertising + IP advocaten which, in addition to advertising law, has an impressive reputation in the food and beverages industry, and HOYNG ROKH MONEGIER for IP. This is in addition to magic circle firms Clifford Chance, Allen & Overy LLP, and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer; Dentons continues its post-merger expansion and consolidation.