Government establishes Commission for Solicitors’ Services to the State

On Friday, the cabinet approved the establishment of the Commission for Solicitors’ Services to the State. This investigative commission will be tasked with looking into how central government will need to be advised and supported in future on matters requiring independent legal representation or assistance. The Commission has been asked to provide insight into the reasons that the State might have for enlisting solicitors’ services. The government’s fundamental principle in that regard is for the State to be able to obtain independent legal advice (a second opinion), particularly when it comes to sensitive matters of a political or governance-related nature. Furthermore, the Commission will also be asked to examine the options in terms of the government itself employing solicitors in full or in part, or the possibility of outsourcing this work in full or in part to one or more market parties.

J. Silvis, LLM, former procurator general at the Supreme Court of the Netherlands and former judge at the European Court of Human Rights, will head up the Commission. The other Commission members are Prof. D.J.B. de Wolff (professor of the Legal Profession), D.C.C. van Everdingen, LLM (former member of the Supervisory Board of the Netherlands Authority for the Financial Markets and former partner at Stibbe), T.M. Snoep, LLM (chair of the Board of the Authority for Consumers and Markets and former chair of the Board at De Brauw) and J.A.P. Veringa, LLM (former director of Legislation and Legal Affairs at the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science).

When putting together the Commission, the government looked for experts who have a track record in or with the legal profession, who are nonetheless sufficiently distanced from the profession to be able to form an independent opinion and who are acquainted with the unique position of the State. The Commission has been asked to submit its report to the government by no later than 1 December 2022. The decree establishing the Commission for Solicitors’ Services to the State will be published in the Government Gazette in a few days’ time.

Moreover, the agreement between the State and the State Advocate has been amended ahead of the Commission for Solicitors’ Services to the State’s advice. This was prompted by the recommendations previously made to the government by Prof. T.R. Ottervanger, LLM, and Prof. A.B. Hoogenboom on the requirements that the State ought to set for the State Advocate (in view of the State’s unique position). The amended agreement with the State Advocate has been submitted to the Lower House of the Netherlands.