The Netherlands Bar

The Netherlands Bar (Nederlandse orde van advocaten, NOvA) is the professional organisation of the legal profession.

NOvA_Jaarverslag 2023_600x400The NOvA was established by the Act on Advocates (Advocatenwet) with effect from 1 October 1952. All advocates in the Netherlands jointly form the NOvA. The NOvA is established by law, but does not receive any government funding. All costs incurred by the NOvA are being paid for by the advocates through an annual financial contribution to the Netherlands Bar. As a result, the NOVA is completely independent of the government. In the annual report 2023 the NOvA explains how it has carried out its (statutory) duties as a public-law professional organisation.

The Netherlands is judicially divided into eleven judicial districts (regions), the jurisdictions of the courts. The advocates in a judicial district form the (local) bar within the judicial district where the advocate holds office. Each local bar is chaired by a council of the local bar (raad van de orde) and a local bar president. A local bar president is chosen by the advocates in the judicial district. The local bar president is responsible for the supervision of all advocates in the judicial district.

The general management is a task of the general council (algemene raad, AR). The NOvA is headed by a secretary general. The secretary general is in charge of the daily management. 

The general council is supported by the office of the NOvA. The office carries out policies and prepares proposals which are of importance to the legal profession. The office consists of four departments: Communications, Finance and Organization, Policy and Regulations and Supervision. The office employs approximately 60 employees.

The NOvA draws up regulations and rules for the legal profession: the Legal Profession Bye-law and the Legal Profession Regulations. The adoption thereof is done by the board of representatives (college van afgevaardigden). The 54 deputies of the board are all chosen by advocates in their own judicial district/region.

International memberships
The NOvA is a member of the International Bar Association (IBA) and the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE).

Act on Advocates
The Act on Advocates governs the profession of advocates. Under this law, the advocate is compulsory part of the NOvA. On the basis of this Act, the NOvA may lay down rules for the professional practice, such as the financial administration and compulsory professional insurance. The advocate is required to undergo continuous training on a yearly basis and is monitored thereon by the central monitoring of the regulations for continuous training.

Bar registration
The bar registration (tableau) contains all advocates who may exercise their profession within the eleven judicial districts (regions) in the Netherlands. On 1/1/2024 in total 18.513 advocates are registrated with the Netherlands Bar. 
This national list is being maintained by the bar registration. The list includes the office name, business address, phone numbers, data of the advocate such as name, date of birth and e-mail address, and other practical information. Advocates are registered after having been sworn in or after admission if they meet all requirements. Disbarment can take place at own request, by a decision of the disciplinary board or after the expiration of a conditional registration.

Find an advocate
This functionality of the European e-Justice Portal allows you to easily find an advocate throughout the EU. This service is provided by the European Commission in collaboration with the currently participating national bar registers.

Confidential information holders’ number
In 2011 the number recognition system was introduced in the Netherlands. The NOvA considers a reliable number recognition system essential because conversations between advocates and their client must always be able to be held in strict confidence. You can read the factsheet for more information.

Contact details
Do you have any questions about the international activities of the Netherlands Bar or do you have any relevant information to share with us? Please send an email to

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