Why would expats need a lawyer? Expats are using lawyers all the time. Hopefully, it would not be because they are in trouble with the police. There might be a myriad of reasons and some of them in this article might surprise you. Most people only see the activity of a lawyer through the narrow prism of a TV drama. If it is well written, it can look quite exciting. In real life, it can be very different but never dull. The law is a subject that is very complex and confusing. Of course, add in the fact that the law is in Dutch and the only choice for expats is to use a local expert. In this article, we look at how expats and internationals should use local legal experts for their businesses. There is a real entrepreneurial spirit in the Netherlands. Lots of the expat community open their businesses and thrive in this very dynamic country. We invited Laura at Russell Advocaten in Amsterdam to give us some insights about how they help companies stay on the right side of the law. Read on to find out more about Businesses and the Law.
We love the old saying about business: Big business is just like small business, but bigger. Companies of all sizes have similar needs, issues and problems. They must chase profitability, control costs, find and retain the best staff, grow their customer base, protect their brand equity, and many other tasks. In every part of that, there is an element of the law. It even starts with the choice of the company structure. Hiring and firing staff will always involve a deep knowledge of the law. What about the company name and the branding? Yes, this, too, will include the law. What buildings and offices will your company need? There are so many variables, and having legal oversight of your operations will allow you to concentrate on achieving your business goals. Laura from Russell Advocaten will now kindly answer our questions on Businesses and the Law.
Q+A – How Lawyers Help Businesses
This will be useful to anyone wanting to open a business in The Netherlands. So let’s get straight on with it and Laura’s essential and useful answer.
Q1. It seems that creating a business in the Netherlands is relatively simple. However, businesses, both big and small, have an essential choice to make right at the start. How do you help people establish the most suitable form, BV, etc.?
Which Dutch legal form is suitable depends on the business activities the entrepreneur intends to conduct in the Netherlands and the specific wishes of the entrepreneur. Thus, asking the right questions is key! That is why we always schedule an intake with each new client. This introductory meeting allows us to learn about the entrepreneur’s specific wishes and enables us to provide legal advice that suits the entrepreneur’s needs. In most cases, the incorporation of a B.V. is the most appropriate. The B.V. is a flexible legal form which can be incorporated relatively quickly but also covers the risk of liability.
Q2. Employing staff can seem complicated and expensive, but it is a necessary part of a growing and successful business. How does Russell Advocaten help its clients with this essential element?
Dutch employment law is very employee-protective. For example, a Dutch employer is obliged to continue to pay salary to a sick employee who cannot perform the agreed work during the first two years of sickness. In light of the strict obligations for Dutch employers, we provide our clients with easy-to-read employment contract templates and other documentation (like a personnel handbook) that comply with Dutch law. Furthermore, we proactively inform our clients of any changes in Dutch employment law if these changes may bring an additional obligation for the clients (in their role as employers).
Q3. Providing a workplace that is warm, safe and clean is essential for any employer. What other issues should a growing business consider as its team grows regarding responsibilities and liabilities?
Dutch law very much focuses on employee participation. For example, following Dutch law, companies with more than 50 employees must establish a works council (WoCo) (in Dutch: ondernemingsraad (OR)). This WoCo is allowed to contribute ideas on business and social issues. The WoCo can therefore have an important influence on the company’s management through advice or consent. As complex legal issues can be involved, we guide both works councils and entrepreneurs so that they contribute to the proper functioning of the company. It regularly happens that expats are members of the WoCo. We then provide training to the WoCo on the do’s and don’ts of employee participation, and we give legal advice on the process between the WoCo and the entrepreneur. If necessary, we also litigate on behalf of the WoCo.
Q4. Many small companies can grow at a fantastic rate and perhaps start to franchise their offers and services. Do you help companies prepare and thrive in that situation?
We are a one-stop shop, and we aim to provide companies with long-term legal advice regarding all matters that they encounter when carrying out business activities in the Netherlands. As a result, we draft service agreements to be used by the company when doing business with third parties. Or depending on the company’s line of business, we draft the required non-disclosure agreements. Furthermore, we prepare board or shareholder’s resolutions and all other documentation that is required for the day-to-day business of a company.
Q5. Please tell us more about other legal elements small and medium-sized companies should consider as they grow.
Small companies are often not structured in a very formal manner. This may pose problems at a later stage when the organisation has grown. That is why we advise start-ups to immediately adopt a personnel policy and make the organization compliant with GDPR requirements. In such cases, we provide the company with a personnel handbook. Such a handbook, which clearly states the rights and obligations of employees, helps avoid employment conflicts later on.
Thank you, Laura and all the team at Russell Advocaten. We are sure that these excellent insights on Businesses and the Law. It will benefit all expats and internationals with a project to start a business in The Netherlands.
It is always possible to find even more information on the Russell Advocaten and the details are below.
Russell Advocaten website
Tel: 020 – 301 55 55
Address: Antonio Vivaldistraat 6, 1083 HP Amsterdam
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