Lawyers from BouwrechtNet always got your back

This article was originally published in NVB Boek voor de Bouw 2015/2016 (in Dutch)


 “We know in depth what’s going on in the construction industry and as a result, we’re a full partner to our clients. We truly always got your back.” Albert de Groot, lawyer at the Amsterdam office of Van Diepen Van der Kroef, can instantly name many advantages of having a specialized construction lawyer. “Moreover, we have a great passion for the industry.”

The lawyers from the six offices that compromise the BouwrechtNet Association (Dutch for Construction Law Network), have gathered in Utrecht, the Netherlands for this conversation. The collaborative network first came to fruition back in 2003. After the launch of the NVOB, the Dutch association of entrepreneurs in the construction industry, a need for nation widely-operating construction lawyers arose. Wim Heijltjes from Heijltjes Lawyers in Heilig Landstichting, the Netherlands initiated the process. “I started gathering the best people who know the answers to questions clients could have. Apart from knowledge on construction law, having a wide back up as a firm is also an important condition. For example, it’s also important that the firm could deal with permits”. “Take bankruptcies”, continues de Groot, “we have seen many bankruptcies in the past years. Your firm needs insolvency experts to deal with such cases. To conclude, for a wide expertise, your firm needs to have a certain size”.

Exchange of knowledge

Apart from the nationwide coverage, exchanging knowledge and expanding that knowledge are both important parts of BouwrechtNet. “We organize courses accordingly to the needs of our clients. These needs align with things we deal with at our construction practice”, explains Hans Spronk, lawyer at Enschede-based Kienhuis Hoving. “Any example?”, asks Albert de Groot. “An inspection takes place at a construction site and the ID of a foreign employee from an entrepreneur appears to be incorrect. The main contractor would also get a high fine. What can a lawyer offer in such case? That’s why we offer these courses. In other words, we are very focused on cases from the real world.”

Engineering

The organized courses have aspects beyond the legal framework. “Engineering is a subject that’s also discussed so that construction lawyers have a full understanding of construction engineering”, according to Marco Dijsselhof from Assen, the Netherlands-based Trip Lawyers. Werner Lindhout, lawyer at Hans Lawyers in Bergen op Zoom, elaborates. To provide an example, ‘What about soil mechanics?’ is a course subject. As a result, reports from the industry are better understood. Ingomar Souren from Kneppelhout & Korthals Lawyers explains that such courses are not seen in regular settings. “The nice part of such courses is the fact that you meet industry experts that results in a rather useful and pleasant exchange of information”. Wim Heijltjes agrees: “it’s always a very nice recognizance.”

Litigation

Knowledge on the industry and knowing what’s going on is what appeals to our clients. The six lawyers have been around in the domain of construction law ever since and truly know the industry. Werner Lindhout: “When you know the industry of your client very well and understand how the game is played within the industry, you can always come to a creative solution.” Ingomar Souren: “I advise sometimes to not litigate, but to take a different approach.”Wim Heijltjes: “The depth of such approach is much more valuable as you have true understanding of what you’re doing. There are plenty of lawyers who’d say that you shouldn’t litigate, because they don’t understand how it works. Or the contrary, to proceed to litigation and providing your client anything but a good service.”

Accidents

Initial advising and a proper risk analysis of contracts. It can prevent much misery according to the lawyers of BouwrechtNet. Heijltjes: “We see an increase of collaboration within the chain. People agree on such collaborations, but they don’t define it properly in contracts. That could cause a lot of trouble. Masking the different interests is not a good option in such case. You have to dare to point out the differences between various parties. Explain explicitly what you’re about to do in case the collaboration fails for whatever reason.”

More information? Check www.bouwrechtnet.nl (in Dutch)