Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 June 2013
The Netherlands attribute an exclusive right of legal representation or assistance in all major civil cases and major criminal cases to lawyers admitted to the Bar. Lawyers who are admitted to the Bar are subject to a duty of professional secrecy. This duty of professional secrecy has its counterpart in the attorney–client privilege. These lawyers can be self-employed or take up office with any firm, in which case certain requirements aiming at maintaining their professional independence have to be met.
Lawyers must comply with the Act on Advocates (Advocatenwet) and the ordinances enacted by the National Bar Council (Nederlandse Orde van Advocaten). The Bar's Code of Conduct has its basis in the Act on Advocates and serves as a guideline for all lawyers. Compliance is enforced in regionally organised disciplinary courts (raden van discipline), overseen by a central Court of Discipline (Hof van Discipline). The Bar itself is organised in regional associations according to the judicial districts of the district courts under the supervision of the Netherlands Bar Association. The regional associations and the national association are presided over by a regional and national dean (deken) respectively. The regional dean is assisted by a supervisory board.