Government adopts advice Committee lawyer services to the State

The government will adopt the recommendations of the Committee lawyer services to the State. Late 2020, this committee issued an advice on the way in which the central government should be advised and assisted in matters requiring independent legal advice and assistance. A government institution that is fully capable of supplying lawyer services to the State is not being advised. It is however recommended to make more use of other law firms besides the State Advocate. And then there is the advice to ensure a better overview of pending cases of the State.

The recommendations by the Committee are reason to see how contracts which some ministries already have with other law firms may be expanded to other ministries besides the contract with the firm of the State Advocate. In addition, work is ongoing to create uniformity as much as possible in the contract conditions in this respect. It is expected that it will then be simpler for the State to engage other law firms than the State Advocate and create more options in lawyer services.

It is clear from the Committee's report however that the willingness of other large law firms than the current State Advocate Pels Rijcken, is less great to win the large contracting party the State as a client and in any case they will not want to keep themselves free to serve the State, as does Pels Rijcken. The law firms would however be interested in a part of the orders from the State.

Understanding lawyer services

More options in lawyer services for the State also provide more insight into the price/quality ratio of lawyer services provided, according to the Committee. In order to come to a better understanding of the lawyer services provided, the way of working abroad was also considered. Following the Danish State contract, the Cabinet now also included a clause for a better overview of pending cases in a new State contract with the firm of the State Advocate.

Moreover, the government is also aiming for more central coordination at the ministries for better monitoring of lawyers' services. By registering data more structurally and uniformly and periodically discussing this interdepartmentally, it is expected that ministries will be better able to identify developments and that this will allow more account to be taken when making choices in purchasing lawyer services.

Contract State Advocate

With the establishment of the committee in May 2022 after the fraud issue at Pels Rijcken, the contract with the State Advocate had already been adjusted with additional requirements about the business operations within the firm. This contract has now been further amended following the committee's recommendation. Over the years, the State Advocate has formed entirely according to the needs of the State. The committee calls it a great strength of Pels Rijcken that it has an institutional memory regarding legal issues in which the State is or has been involved. However, the downside is that it also creates a dependency. That is why the government endorses the importance of increasing the options in legal services and the need for stricter monitoring and better insight into pending cases.