Working with a permanent law firm has advantages for the state, but variety is wise. This is the conclusion of the ‘State Lawyer Services Commission’, which was set up after fraud came to light in Pels Rijcken in 2021.
The State Attorneys’ Services Committee presented its findings to the House of Representatives on December 6. The commission – set up on May 19 – is chaired by Gus Silves, a former chief prosecutor at the Supreme Court.
The committee examined how the state could be assisted by lawyers. After all, the fraud of at least 11 million euros, perpetrated by the late Frank Orangi – former chairman of the board and civil notary of Pels Rijcken – raised concerns about this office to which the national lawyer had traditionally belonged.
In the investigation, the government’s starting point was that the state should provide independent legal advice (A second opinion) She must be able to obtain it, especially on politically and administratively sensitive issues. In addition, the “Selfies Committee” was asked, among other things, to consider alternatives. For example, to hire the government’s own lawyers, and the possibility of outsourcing this work to market parties. So the report now submitted provides answers.
For example, in the report, which is more than 150 pages long, the committee recommended that not wanting to create a national legal services corporation as part of the state, but that government-employed lawyers perform a useful function.
When an institute is created with a purpose full service For state legal services, a tension can arise between the desires for effective policy and the independence of state lawyers, the report said. Thus, it is not expected that serving state lawyers will be able to fully replace (external) national lawyers in practice.
Maintaining a state attorney
According to the committee, outside legal services will continue to be necessary, in particular because of mandatory legal representation, legal advice or a second opinion. In addition, working with a permanent law firm has advantages – given the immediate availability of experienced lawyers who know the national government well – and the Committee sees no reason to stop with Pels Rijcken.
The Committee notes that the State Attorney’s Office has evolved over the years to meet the needs of the State. The report said that specialists are immediately available for almost all required areas of law.
And according to the Silves Commission, a permanent confidential advisor to the State Legal Services should also not be questioned. They say “retain the title of ‘State’s Attorney'”. Reimer Veldhuis, partner at Pels Rijcken, is currently entitled to this title by royal decree.
The Commission is already aware of the danger of over-reliance on Pels Rijcken and therefore advises the State to involve other law firms as well. The importance of “commissioning professionalism” was stressed.
According to the committee, the state must ensure central coordination and an overview of the services of lawyers purchased and pending cases. This “aims in part to strengthen institutional memory on the part of the state and to adequately monitor and evaluate services.”
Furthermore, more detailed agreements must be concluded with the state attorney general’s office. For example, about possible termination of the relationship with the government: “The agreement with the state’s attorney shall provide for a Resolution mechanismWhere the state and the office conclude clear agreements about a smooth transition upon termination of the contractual relationship in whole or in part.
Finally, the Commission acknowledges that Pels Rijcken has taken steps following the outcome of the fraud involving millions. For example, the company got rid of its notarial practices, set up a supervisory board, compensated for the damage caused by fraud, and the agreement between the state and the attorney general has now been supplemented by agreements for better oversight and proper management.