On 3 October 2014, the “Koninklijke Notariële Beroepsorganisatie” (KNB) held the Dutch notariat’s annual congress in Rotterdam. The topic of the congress was ‘Notaries across borders’ with an increasingly significant subtopic: every notary will be faced with cross-border issues. What will the future hold for the profession? Mr André Michielsens, President of the Council of the Notariats of the European Union (CNUE), presented the Notaries of Europe’s 2020 Plan to 900 Dutch notaries and stakeholders. The President of the KNB, Mr Franc Wilmink, also presented the very first example of a European passport for legal entities. This passport, a commitment by the Notaries of Europe for 2020, is one of the tools that will make cross-border operations easier for European businesses.
Elaborating on the recent nominations at the European Commission, Mr Michielsens said, “The new vice-president of the European Commission is competent for better regulation. Regulation does not always lead to less economic growth. The Dutch notarial profession should enter into a dialogue about the importance of the authentic instrument side by side with the European notarial profession”.
This declaration resonated with the auditorium, where many of the discussions related to the current case brought by the KNB against the notaries working with the HEMA chain of department stores, which are offering legal services to clients: sale of wills, cohabitation contracts, etc. The KNB has filed a complaint against these notaries, who are not conforming to their ethical obligations. In this context, Prof. Alan Paterson from Scotland said that there was also a strong call for deregulation in the United Kingdom and “while the concept of a ‘HEMA’ notary would require adjustments (…), similar initiatives will continue to appear. We must make clear that too much deregulation is harmful. Quality assurance, through peer reviews for instance, is vital,” said Mr Paterson.
European law was also at the heart of discussions. Ms Lineke Minkjan, advisor on international affairs for the KNB, demonstrated the CNUE’s various information websites to an enthusiastic audience. After Prof. Sjef van Erp and Bram Akkermans had explained the new European Succession Regulation, Ms Sabine Heijning used a case study to demonstrate the consequences of applying the regulation. For example, what aspects come into play if a Dutch woman who has married her ski instructor in Austria returns to live in the Netherlands on her own after a period of time and dies suddenly? Finally, Ms Birgit Snijder spoke about cross-border company law based on a case involving a Dutch business owner who had moved to and expanded his business in Germany in association with a Latvian business owner.
For further information on the KNB and its activities: www.knb.nl.