Notaries occupy a special place in the world of legal professionals in the Netherlands, alongside attorneys-at-law (advocaten), bailiffs (deurwaarders) and tax advisors (belastingconsulenten). This is apparent first and foremost from the way in which a notary is appointed and performs his duties. Like an attorney, a notary is a legal professional with clients who pay for his advice and services, but like a judge, a notary is appointed by the Crown for life (in other words until the age of retirement at 70). The permanence of the appointment is designed to safeguard the independence which a notary needs to perform his duties.
This brings us to a second important feature: a notary’s independence and, more importantly, his impartiality. Unlike an attorney-at-law or other legal advisor, a notary does not act for just one party. Instead, in the Dutch legal system, he is required to weigh up and balance the interests of all the parties to a legal transaction. A notary is, as it were, above the parties. For example, when real property is conveyed a notary acts for both the seller and the buyer. He has a duty of secrecy in relation to his clients and has the right to withhold information in court, in the same way as an attorney-at-law or a doctor. In cases where a notary nonetheless acts as legal advisor to a particular party to a transaction, he should make this sufficiently clear to all concerned. Here too, however, the notary should not neglect the interests of third parties.
What legal services does a notary provide?
The law requires a notarial instrument for a number of agreements and legal transactions. The most important are: Conveying real property in the Netherlands; Creating or cancelling mortgages; Incorporating public or private limited liability companies (NVs and BVs) or altering their articles of association; Establishing foundations or associations (including cooperatives) or altering their constitution; Drawing up, altering and executing wills; Drawing up or altering marriage contracts (i.e. usually ante-nuptial settlements) and registered domestic partnership agreements; Transferring registered shares; Legalising signatures; Providing for gifts and donations in a notarial instrument.
For practical reasons a notary often also performs other types of legal transaction and drafts other types of agreement, for example partnership agreements (commercial, civil and limited partnerships), agreements between cohabitees and provisions to protect private limited liability companies from third parties.
If you would like to receive more information about the services that Kroes & Partners civil law notaries has to offer you, please contact us throughout our information form and we will get back to you as soon as possible.