The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) has urged the Royal Dutch Association of Civil-law Notaries (KNB) to adjust the information about passing on a fee for the 'Notarial Quality Fund (in Dutch: ‘Kwaliteitsfonds Notariaat’). The KNB seemed to recommend its members to charge their customers a fee of 9.95 euros per notarial deed. This is not allowed. Trade associations such as the KNB cannot give their members recommendations on prices or any components thereof. Members must set their own prices fully independently and freely. KNB has now adjusted and clarified the information about the fee.
What is the matter?
Civil-law notaries are statutorily required to make contributions to said 'Notarial Quality Fund’. One of the fund’s purposes is financing the oversight over civil-law notaries. Another purpose is making sure that, if a civil-law notary goes bankrupt, other civil-law notaries will take over their cases. In this way, consumers are protected against any adverse consequences of bankruptcies.
Civil-law notaries can differentiate themselves from others in terms of price, quality, and service. As a result, consumers and businesses are able to choose a notary who suits their individual needs. Trade associations cannot give their members recommendations on prices or any components thereof.
ACM ensures that markets work well for people and businesses. We provide education for people and businesses on the rules and regulations that apply on the market. In addition, we call people and businesses to account for their potentially anticompetitive behavior. If businesses violate the rules, ACM is able to choose from a wide range of instruments to solve market problems. This varies from issuing warnings to imposing fines.