European lawyers

European lawyers

The Netherlands Bar (NOvA) is the professional organisation of the legal profession.

The NOvA was established by the Act on Advocates (Advocatenwet) with effect from 1 October 1952. All lawyers in the Netherlands jointly form the NOvA. More information about The Netherlands Bar and regulations and rules for the legal profession.

General information for European lawyers (produit fini) and European graduates (produit infini)
For graduates, Section 2 of the Act on Advocates means in brief that when they have obtained (i) the university degrees Bachelor and Master of Laws; or (ii) a doctorate in law; or (iii) the right to use the title of ‘meester’, at a Dutch university, can apply for registration as a lawyer (advocaat). Additionally, based on European law, qualified lawyers and law graduates from another member state of the European Union (EU), the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland have several options to (occasionally) practice or be registered as a lawyer in the Netherlands.

European lawyer (produit fini)
1. Occasional practice under home title
The Free Movement of Services allows a person, who is entitled to pursue his professional activities as a lawyer in another EU member state, the EEA or Switzerland, to practice as a lawyer in another EU member state under the title used in his home member state (home title), provided that certain conditions are met. This results from the services directive for lawyers (directive 77/249/EC), which is implemented in Sections 16a through 16f of the Act on Advocates.

2. Permanent practice under home title
On the basis of the free movement of establishment, a person who is authorized to pursue his professional activities as a lawyer in another EU member state, the EEA or Switzerland, can practice in the Netherlands under home title. This requires presentation of a certificate attesting to his registration with the competent authority in the home member state, after which he will be registered on the bar registration. There are certain further conditions, especially with regard to practicing in courts. This results from the establishment directive for lawyers (directive 98/5/EC) which is implemented in Sections 16g through 16k of the Act on Advocates. Use the form “Aanvraag inschrijving op grond van artikel 16h Advocatenwet” for your request (in Dutch). 

3. Registration as a Dutch lawyer (advocaat), after three years of effectively and regularly practicing in the Netherlands in Dutch law
After three years of practicing under home title in the Netherlands, as described above under 2., a person, who is authorised to pursue his professional activities in another EU member state, the EEA or Switzerland, may request to register as a Dutch lawyer (advocaat). This requires the presentation of a document that proves that he effectively and regularly practiced as a lawyer in the Netherlands in Dutch law for a period of three years. This possibility also arises from the establishment directive for lawyers (directive 98/5/EC) and is implemented in Sections 2a and 2b of the Act on Advocates.

4. Registration as a Dutch lawyer (advocaat), based on EU recognition of professional qualifications
A fully qualified lawyer (produit fini) from one of the EU member states could apply for registration as a Dutch lawyer (advocaat) after his professional qualifications are recognized. You could request the general council for recognition. In some cases you must first successfully complete an aptitude test. This results from the direction on the recognition of EU professional qualifications (directive 2005/36/EG, incl. 2013/55/EU), that is implemented in the Netherlands in article 2, subsection 1, under c, of the Act on Advocates, in the General Recognition of EU Professional Qualifications Act and in the Regulation on Recognition of EU Professional Qualifications for Lawyers. A fee is charged for the examination of (parts of) the aptitude test. Depending on which parts (at which organization) are imposed in the decision, the costs are 100 (excl. VAT) or 700 (exempted from VAT) euros per exam.

For your request, use the form formulier aanvraag erkenning beroepskwalificaties (in Dutch). Pursuant to article 19 of the General Recognition of EU Professional Qualifications Act, the decision period is three months for the request for recognition of EU professional qualifications. The term of the decision period could be prolonged once with one month.

If you disagree with the decision on your application, you could submit a reasoned and signed objection accompanied by a copy or scan of the decision within six weeks after the date of the decision to the general council of the Netherlands Bar, for the attention of administrative and legal affairs, by post via P.O. Box number 30851, 2500 GW, The Hague or by mail via jz@advocatenorde.nl stating ‘objection decision recognition EU professional qualification’. Against the absence of a decision on your application, you could refer to the above-mentioned address as well after the deadline.

If you disagree with the decision on the objection, you could appeal against the decision to the court, section administrative law, in accordance with the provisions of chapter 8 in the General Administrative Law, within six weeks after publication. Against the absence of a decision on the objection, you could refer to the above-mentioned court as well after the deadline. The notice of appeal could be lodged digitally and in writing. For more information see: https://mijn.rechtspraak.nl/start/burger (in Dutch).

European graduate (produit infini)
A person who has successfully completed the final examination of a study program in the field of law at a university in an EU member state, the EEA or Switzerland, but is not yet fully qualified to practice as a lawyer in his home member state (produit infini), may apply for registration as a Dutch lawyer (advocaat). The general council will first study the equivalency of the final examination and the acquired professional experience and education and may demand that the applicant completes additional examinations. This results from Section 2, subsection 4, of the Act on Advocates, which is an effect of the judgment of the EU Court of Justice in the case Morgenbesser (C-313/01). Use the form “Formulier op grond van artikel 2, vierde lid, van de Advocatenwet” for your request (in Dutch). 

Graduates from outside the EU
A person who has successfully completed a study program in the field of law at a university outside the EU, EEA or Switzerland, still has to complete the degrees of Bachelor and Master of Laws at a Dutch university. Exemption for specific courses may be granted based on diploma accreditation. We advise you to contact the university about this beforehand.

For questions and/or comments, you can contact the Netherlands Bar (tel. +31 70 335 35 54 / email: informatiepunt@advocatenorde.nl).