The notary profession is not always an easy path to tread. Conflicts can get tense and a notary can be used as a means of pressuring others. They can also be targeted easily. Vested interests are often significant and should be treated with care. When a complaint is filed against a notary, it is followed by a referral to the disciplinary court. DKVA is one of the few lawfirms in The Netherlands that specialises in notarial disciplinary law. This specialisation can be divided into two parts.
Within the first part, we regularly give preventive advice. This advice forms the background for difficult cases. Sometimes the notary is blamed when there is -in fact- a conflict somewhere else behind the scenes. The notary is then used as a means of applying pressure. Because it is quite easy to file a complaint against a notary, the notary is perceived as an easy target. This often occurs when a party disagrees with a certain course of events (think of the content of a last will and testament). The notary must carefully ensure that competing interests are represented. A notary must also be able to say ‘no’. We play an important preventive role at all of these points. We can help determine whether our client’s statutory obligation to perform an official duty should be granted or not. After all, money laundering or unauthorised and prohibited transactions must at all times be prevented.
In addition, we assist notaries in complaint cases before the disciplinary court. The complaint may come, for example, from a dissatisfied individual, the Financial Supervision Office, or the KNB (Royal Dutch Association of Civil-law Notaries). Complaints are often submitted to assess whether the notary can be held liable for damages. There is a great deal of tension between liability law and notarial disciplinary law. In contrast to liability law, it is important in disciplinary law to acknowledge mistakes and to display self-reflection. After all, a notary is all about people’s behaviour, and therefore requires that human touch. You have to find a balance in this. You may compare it to walking on a tightrope. DKVA has experience in successfully striking this balance time and time again.
Finally, we are also very well-informed of the professional indemnity of notaries. This particularly comes into play when we are dealing with civil cases. Insurance companies (of the notary) regularly choose DKVA, because we previously assisted the notary before the disciplinary court. It may also be that an insurer assigns their own lawyer. In such cases, the notary directly requests DKVA to join, in order to represent their own personal interests.
Any questions? Feel free to contact Felix Chorus or David Vermelis.