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NMa consults society on self-regulation legal profession

The Netherlands Competition Authority (NMa) is setting up a broad consultation on professional regulation and codes of practice in the legal profession, involving business and consumers. The NMa queries interested parties on whether professional regulation and codes of practice, as employed by the legal profession, are necessary and proportional to the end pursued.

Regulation instigated by the Dutch Bar Association (NOvA) may affect competition among the legal profession. For example, specific rules prohibit setting up particular collaborative associations and directly approaching potential clients. The central question is whether these rules are necessary and proportional to the sound exercise of the legal profession and protection of those buying legal services.

The NMa and NOvA are in continual consultation on current regulation, considering possible amendments in order to achieve an optimal expression of rules. NOvA has repeatedly stated its willingness to modernise regulation and is actively involved in doing so. Following the consultation round, the NMa will issue a final report. This is due for the first half of 2007.

At the moment, the focus of attention is on regulation and deregulation in the liberal professions. On 13 October 2006, the Dutch Government largely endorsed the conclusions set out by the Legal Profession Committee [Commissie Advocatuur] in its report entitled 'A social profession' ['Een maatschappelijke Orde']. This year, the liberal professions are a priority in NMa policy. The competition authority is also taking stock of self-regulation among civil law notaries, accountants and architects, focusing on effects which may potentially impede competition. As to these subsectors, the NMa hopes to have achieved results by the end of the year.

The consultation document (only available in Dutch) is open to response up until 1 December 2006 via email.