In the Netherlands, our strong network in the Randstad region has been enhanced by bringing on board Rachael King, Legal Director, who is based in The Hague.
The strong economy of the Netherlands and its close relationships with the UK mean that our clients’ European interests are served in a timely, cost effective and expert manner; Rachael is able to help UK clients trading in Europe and EU clients trading with the UK.
The Netherlands hub was set up in 2016 and now constitutes two main work centres in Middelburg and Hilversum, with capability in Rotterdam and Amsterdam. Headed by Robin Koolhoven in the UK, Allan Hooijen in Hilversum and Jaap Ijdema in Middelburg, the practice assists companies investing in the Netherlands.
We work with UK, US and Chinese companies at all stages of their business journey in the Netherlands, assisted by our partners, the types of work we do includes the following:
Owners of a new company in the Netherlands must select a legal business structure such as a sole proprietor (eenmanszaak) or private limited company (bv). The legal structure determines their liabilities and tax obligations. We advise clients on which business structure most suits their need, and then work with them to set it up.
Investigations of Dutch companies
When you’re contemplating working with a Dutch counterparty, whether as a distributor for your products or as a supplier, or for some other commercial purpose, it is beneficial to carry out an investigation into the company and its owners before signing the contract. We help clients get this done, so that they have peace of mind and go into new relationships with their eyes open and fewer ‘unknowns’.
M&A work and due diligence
While acquisition contracts might be governed by English law, if the target is Dutch it is still necessary to have Dutch lawyers perform due diligence on that target. We work with multinational clients on these matters.
Review of contracts governed by Dutch law
It may seem obvious that if a contract is governed by Dutch law then a review needs to be carried out by someone qualified in the Netherlands, however we are aware that sometimes this does not happen. UK qualified lawyers may be tempted to review your contract, add a disclaimer to their review indicating that it has been based on ‘common sense’ and then charge you for their time. We don’t do this because it does not serve your best interests as our client.
Even if the form contracts you use are all subject to English or US courts, you might still find yourself drawn into a dispute in the Netherlands if sued by a third party there in tort. When this happened to one of our exporter clients, we were able to assist them by finding the right defence lawyers in The Hague and provide them with dispute resolution support ourselves. A settlement was reached before the case went to trial, much to the relief of the client.
Employment law and intellectual property
We help our UK and US clients to find the right advisors when they want to employ people, or protect their brand or technology in the Netherlands.
The Netherlands is Britain’s fourth biggest export market, buying more British goods than China, and its third biggest importer.
Export opportunities for UK businesses include:
If you’re thinking of doing business in The Netherlands, here are some key things to know:
VAT is called BTW in The Netherlands. The usual rate is 21%. A lower rate of 9% applies to some products and services, such as food, medicines, and paint and plaster for homes.
Standards and regulations
Products and services should meet relevant EU safety standards, including clear instructions for proper use, and include warnings against misuse. The National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) is responsible for standards.
Packaging and labelling
EU standards apply to packaging.
Dutch law requires that every invoice should be paid within 30 days, unless the buyer and supplier agree on other payment conditions. A payment term of over 60 days is only allowed if it can be shown that it is not detrimental to either party. More detail on payment terms can be found on the website of the Netherlands Enterprise Agency.