Skip to main content

The Dutch Attorney and His Client

  • 168 Accesses

Part of the Ius Comparatum - Global Studies in Comparative Law book series (GSCL,volume 44)


There can be no doubt that access to a lawyer is a crucial right for any defendant in a criminal case. It will endorse the defendant’s right to a fair trial and it will help to secure that the defendant is not ill-treated while in custody. Of course, the attorney-client or legal privilege has to be respected to make the assistance of a lawyer practical and effective. In this respect, Dutch criminal procedural law provides for the assistance of a lawyer from a very early stage of the pretrial investigation, and secrecy is generally warranted. However, legal privilege is regarded by some as a nuisance, standing in the way of effective criminal investigations. This is why in the drafting process of the new Dutch Criminal Procedural Code, the drafting of provisions dedicated to the legal privilege have to be followed with scrutiny. The legislator is actually trying to codify the full scope of the legal privilege, including exceptions that justify breaching it. In general, only very rarely should other interests, such as discovering the truth in a criminal investigation, outweigh the interest of respecting the legal privilege. A detailed and balanced legal framework is necessary.


  • Access to lawyer
  • Attorney-client communications
  • Attorney-client privilege
  • Confidentiality
  • Criminal defence
  • Criminal procedure
  • Exclusionary rules
  • Fair trial
  • Legal aid
  • Legal Aid Council
  • Legal privilege
  • Mandatory legal assistance
  • Right of defence
  • Right to counsel
  • Search and seizure
  • Search of lawyer’s offices

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Buying options

USD   29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-43123-5_8
  • Chapter length: 29 pages
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
USD   139.00
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • ISBN: 978-3-030-43123-5
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
Softcover Book
USD   179.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Hardcover Book
USD   179.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)


  1. 1.

    The terms “lawyer”, “attorney”, “advocate” and “counsel” are all used interchangeably to refer to the attorney-at-law that provides legal assistance to the defendant in criminal cases.

  2. 2.

    Research for this contribution was first done until 1 October 2017. We have updated this later version in August 2019, specifically to keep up with some recent developments in the upcoming new legislation.

  3. 3.

    Recent examples include Mooijen (2013), Leenders (2014) and Altena and Mooijen (2015).

  4. 4.

    FATF/OECD and IMF (2011), p. 116. On the lack of critical assessment of collected information by evaluation teams during this and other evaluations, see Halliday et al. (2014), p. 24.

  5. 5.

    Kamerstukken II 2013/14, 33685, 2, amending Art. 98, Art. 552a and Art. 552d CCP.

  6. 6.

    A draft of the first two books of the new CCP was made public for consultation on 7 February 2017.

  7. 7.

    Salduz v. Turkey, Appl. no. 36391/02, of 27 November 2008.

  8. 8.

    Hoge Raad 30 June 2009, ECLI:NL:HR:2009:BH3079, NJ 2009/349.

  9. 9.

    Aanwijzing rechtsbijstand politieverhoor, Stcrt. 2010, 4003.

  10. 10.

    See Stevens and Verhoeven (2010), pp. 147–156. It should be noted however that in a protocol regulating the experiment, the bar association had agreed that the lawyer should not interfere during the police interview. This would not be the case under the legislative proposal, which since has entered into force. See for an update on the practice of the assistance of a lawyer during interrogation, Langetermijnmonitor Raadsman bij politieverhoor, WODC-Cahier 2018-16.

  11. 11.

    Hoge Raad 22 December 2015, ECLI:NL:HR:2015:3608.

  12. 12.

    Stb. 2016, 475 and 476. Both bills entered into force on 1 March 2017.

  13. 13.

    Kamerstukken II 2014/15, 34157, 3, p. 28.

  14. 14.

    Hoge Raad 13 September 2016, ECLI:NL:HR:2016:2068.

  15. 15.

    Police custody (max. 3 days, with one possibility to prolong for another 3 days) follows up on arrest (max. 9 h).

  16. 16.

    Remand custody, to be ordered by the investigative judge, is the first phase of pretrial detention, and lasts for a maximum of 14 days.

  17. 17.

    Besluit vergoedingen rechtsbijstand 2000. The wages are fairly modest.

  18. 18.

    Blackstock et al. (2014), p. 313.

  19. 19.

    See also Wefers Bettink and Hoekstra (2012) and Perez and Heinerman (2016).

  20. 20.

    The latest version dates from 1992. They are currently under revision, but no real changes are expected as to the obligation of secrecy.

  21. 21.

    It reads: “Insofar as not otherwise provided by law or regulation by the Board of Delegates, the lawyer is obliged to secrecy for all that he takes notice of under his professional practice. The same obligation is required for employees and members of staff of the lawyer, as well as other people who are involved in his professional practice.”

  22. 22.

    Kamerstukken II 2011/12, 32382, 10.

  23. 23.

    Stb. 2014/354 and Stb. 2014/429.

  24. 24.

    In para. 2 it states that this obligation continues to exist even after the professional practice has ended.

  25. 25.

    This point was raised in the explanation of the concept of the first book of the new CCP, p. 132.

  26. 26.

    Relevant to note is when acting as defence counsel in criminal matters, a lawyer is not bound by the rules regarding the prevention of money laundering and financing terrorism. Those rules order a lawyer to inform authorities of unusual transactions of his client.

  27. 27.

    Kamerstukken II 2012/13, 32382, 15, annex.

  28. 28.

    See Hoge Raad 22 November 2016, ECLI:NL:HR:2016:2649 and Hoge Raad 5 March 2019, ECLI:NL:HR:2019:295.

  29. 29.

    During the French rule of the Netherlands (1811–1813), the privilege was derived from the substantive stipulation on penalizing a breach of the obligation of secrecy (Art. 378 Code pénal). A formal counterpart was not deemed necessary, see Chauveau and Hélie (1863), pp. 225–226.

  30. 30.

    Although some changes are expected (see later on), this starting-point will be upheld by the legislator as an important part of our legal system (explanation of the concept of the first book of the new CCP, pp. 129 and 132). See also Sluysman and de Graaff (2016) on the general acceptance of the thought that anyone should feel free to turn to a lawyer (and doctor etc.).

  31. 31.

    Hoge Raad 1 March 1985, ECLI:1985:AC9066, NJ 1986/173. The case concerned a notary public. For earlier case law, see Hoge Raad 21 April 1913, NJ 1913;W9484.

  32. 32.

    Hoge Raad 29 March 1994, ECLI:NL:HR:1994:ZC9693, NJ 1994/552 and Hoge Raad 10 November 2015, ECLI:NL:HR:2015:3258. It concerned the seizure of documents from advocates, see more on that in Sect. 5.

  33. 33.

    There is an instruction on these matters drafted by the Public Prosecution Service, Aanwijzing toepassing opsporingsbevoegdheden en dwangmiddelen tegen advocaten (Stcrt. 2011, 4981).

  34. 34.

    Campbell v. UK, Appl. no. 13590/88, of 25 March 1992, para. 46.

  35. 35.

    See, amongst others, Khodorkosvkiy v. Russia, Appl. no. 5829/04, of 31 May 2011, para. 232; Castravet v. Moldava, Appl. no. 23393/05, of 13 March 2007, para. 49. See more on this in Sect. 4 of this article.

  36. 36.

    Niemietz v. Germany, Appl. no. 13710/88, of 16 December 1992.

  37. 37.

    André v. France, Appl. no. 18603/03, of 24 July 2008.

  38. 38.

    Jacquier v. France, Appl. no. 45827/07, of 1 September 2002.

  39. 39.

    Khodorkovskiy and Lebedev v. Russia, Appl. nos. 11082/06 and 13772/05, of 25 July 2013.

  40. 40.

    Judgement of the Court AM & S Europe limited v. Commission, Appl. no. C-155/79, of 18 May 1982, para. 18.

  41. 41.

    See Art. 10 para. 1 under b. of the Lawyers’ Act and Rule 5 of the Code of Conduct.

  42. 42.

    Safe for the household rules (Huishoudelijk Reglement) and the number of meeting cells, more generally spoken, any meeting other than mentioned in Art. 28e CCP, can take place as long and as many times as the defence wants. Compare and contrast Öcalan v. Turkey (GC), Appl. nos. 24069/03, 197/04, 6201/06 and 10464/07, of 18 March 2014, para. 135.

  43. 43.

    It should be noted that the telephone conversations of a prisoner could be monitored (see in general Doerga v. The Netherlands, Appl. no. 50210/99, of 27 April 2004). This is why normally no details of a case are discussed over the telephone by a prisoner and his lawyer, although the conversation is of course privileged.

  44. 44.

    S. v. Switzerland, Appl. nos. 12629/87, 13965/88, of 28 November 1991, para. 48; Brennan v. United Kingdom, Appl. no. 39846/98, of 16 October 2001, para. 58; Zagaria v. Italy, Appl. no. 58295/00, 27 November 2007, para. 35–36; Castravet v. Moldava, Appl. no. 23393/05, of 13 March 2007, para. 51; Sakhnovskiy v. Russia (GC), Appl. no. 21272/03, of 2 November 2010, para. 97 and Khodorkosvkiy v. Russia, Appl. no. 5829/04, of 31 May 2011, para. 232.

  45. 45.

    See for instance Rechtbank Den Haag 2 October 2006, ECLI:NL:RBSGR:2006:AY9232.

  46. 46.

    Compare Sakhnovskiy v. Russia (GC), Appl. no. 21272/03, of 2 November 2010, para. 98, about participating during trial.

  47. 47.

    Compare Art. 3 para. 6 of the Directive 2013/48/EU. See also Brennan v. United Kingdom, Appl. no. 39846/98, of 16 October 2001, para. 58.

  48. 48.

    See Art. 46 and 47 CCP.

  49. 49.

    See also preamble 26.

  50. 50.

    See Art. 61a para. 1 sub. c CCP and Art. 9 Besluit toepassing maatregelen in het belang van het onderzoek.

  51. 51.

    Hoge Raad 11 January 2011, ECLI:NL:HR:2011:BO4056 and Hoge Raad 9 February 2010, ECLI:NL:HR:2010:BK6146.

  52. 52.

    They will not discuss the accusation etc., at least not that we know of (no arrangement in law exists). Mediation could also take place between victims and suspects, but that is a different matter.

  53. 53.

    See Art. 151 and 193 CCP.

  54. 54.

    Hof ’s-Hertogenbosch 20 June 2016, ECLI:NL:GHSHE:2016:2428. Extra information was given to us by Mr. Henk Peters, district attorney on the second appeal (advocate-general) in that case.

  55. 55.

    Blok and Besier (1925), pp. 313–317 and 540–544.

  56. 56.

    Hélie (1866), pp. 413–414.

  57. 57.

    Hoge Raad 12 February 2002, ECLI:NL:HR:AD9162, NJ 2002/439.

  58. 58.

    Hoge Raad 2 March 2010, ECLI:NL:HR:2010:BJ9262, NJ 2010/144.

  59. 59.

    Art. 110 CCP may be used to the discretion of the investigative judge, Art. 97 CCP requires an offence for which pretrial detention can be ordered (in general, any offence with a legal imprisonment term of 4 years or more).

  60. 60.

    Stcrt. 2011, 4981.

  61. 61.

    Hoge Raad 1 July 2014, ECLI:NL:HR:2014:1566.

  62. 62.

    Hoge Raad 28 June 2016, ECLI:NL:HR:2016:1324.

  63. 63.

    Hoge Raad 2 July 2013, ECLI:NL:HR:2013:CA0434.

  64. 64.

    The Supreme Court has ruled time and again (recently Hoge Raad 28 June 2016, ECLI:NL:HR:2016:1324): “When the professional entitled to privilege argues that it concerns letters or documents that are not objects that were part of the criminal offence nor have they served to commit the criminal offence, and that their examination will lead to the breach of their professional duty of confidentiality, this point of view needs to be respected by the police and judicial authorities, unless there are no doubts in reason that this point of view is incorrect.”

  65. 65.

    Hoge Raad 12 February 2002, ECLI:NL:HR:2002:AD9162, NJ 2002/439.

  66. 66.

    Hoge Raad 10 December 2013, ECLI:NL:HR:2013:1740, NJ 2014/93.

  67. 67.

    The Supreme Court has specified that the District Court should scrutinize the decision taken by the investigative judge and give its own opinion on the content. For that reason, the District Court could have full access to all relevant documents if that is necessary. See Hoge Raad 28 June 2016, ECLI:NL:HR:2016:1324.

  68. 68.

    It is illegal for the public prosecutor and investigators from the fiscal police to take notice of the content of these documents as they should be sent immediately to the investigative judge: Hoge Raad 2 March 2010, ECLI:NL:HR:2010:BJ9262, NJ 2010/144.

  69. 69.

    Mooijen (2017), pp. 6–9.

  70. 70.

    Lintz and Verloop (2009), p. 1057.

  71. 71.

    Art. 4a Besluit bewaren en vernietigen niet-gevoegde stukken and the appendix.

  72. 72.

    Kamerstukken II 2001/02, 28059, 3, p. 20.

  73. 73.

    This is in line with the jurisprudence of the ECtHR, see Khodorkosvkiy v. Russia, Appl. no. 5829/04, of 31 May 2011, para. 198.

  74. 74.

    Hoge Raad 16 September 2014, ECLI:NL:HR:2014:2670, accentuation by the authors.

  75. 75.

    This has happened, Hoge Raad 16 June 2009, ECLI:NL:HR:2009:BH2678.

  76. 76.

    Hoge Raad 30 March 2004, ECLI:NL:HR:2004:AM2533, NJ 2004/376.

  77. 77.

    See for one verdict Rechtbank Amsterdam 20 December 2007, ECLI:NL:RBAMS:2007:BC0685.

  78. 78.

    See Noorduyn and Groendijk (2011), pp. 31–38.

  79. 79.

    Hoge Raad 16 June 2009, ECLI:NL:HR:2009:BH2678.

  80. 80.

    The defendant is free to wear the clothes he wants (no orange jumpsuits) and is not handcuffed or shackled in any way, nor is he placed in a cage of some sort.

  81. 81.

    Art. 277 para. 2 CCP.

  82. 82.

    Art. 281 CCP. One statutory exception is a (short) break in case the charges get altered on request of the public prosecutor and proceedings cannot continue straight away. Depending on the nature of the alteration, the trial is then suspended for either a certain period or at least interrupted for a couple of moments. See Art. 314 para. 2 CCP.

  83. 83.

    One of the authors had the opportunity to confer confidentially in the court room via an interpreter with a client who was in custody, with only the officers present at a distance. Both the judge and the clerk, as well as the public prosecutor actually left the court room. Compare and contrast Khodorkosvkiy v. Russia, Appl. no. 5829/04, of 31 May 2011, para. 231. Recently a defendant even had the opportunity to assault a judge.

  84. 84.

    In 2007, a well-known lawyer had to appear before an investigative judge to testify about a client who was supposedly also his friend. The public prosecutor and the investigative judge were of the opinion that some information was not privileged. Nevertheless, the lawyer refused to answer questions on that matter and was backed by the local Dean of Amsterdam. The magistrates left it at that. See for a short recap of the affair, Bannier (2007). One of the authors knows from his own experience of a case in 2008, where a lawyer witnessed the manslaughter of the opposing party committed by his client at the time a civil law suit between them was pending (the manslaughter actually happened when they ran into each other on the street). When summoned by the investigative judge, the lawyer had to testify about the incident and was supported by the local Dean of Dordrecht. It was not an incident of which he could exclude himself as a witness.

  85. 85.

    Largely based on parts of Art. 98 CCP.

  86. 86.

    When the investigative judge has to decide whether the information that is seized is privileged, he and appointed employees can peruse it. See Art. para. 5 CCP (in concept). The contents cannot be disclosed, however.

  87. 87.

    See Brouwer (2017); Nan (2017), para 3.

  88. 88.

    As part of the so-called program “Start up in Residence II”: (accessed 16 August 2019).

  89. 89.

    Those general principles will be codified as well in Art. (in concept). That authorities need to be careful is acknowledged in the Aanwijzing toepassing opsporingsbevoegdheden en dwangmiddelen tegen advocaten (Stcrt. 2011, 4981).

  90. 90.

    Once in a while lawyers are suspected themselves, possibly warranting search and seizures. For two recent examples see Hoge Raad 1 July 2014, ECLI:NL:HR:2014:1565, NJ 2014/475 and Hoge Raad 31 May 2016, ECLI:NL:HR:2016:1006 (more information on the case can be found in the advice of the advocate-general, Parket bij de Hoge Raad 16 February 2016, ECLI:NL:PHR:2016:402).

  91. 91.

    These are thoughts of our legislator, see the explanation of the concept of the first book of the new CCP.

  92. 92.

    Hoge Raad 26 January 2016, ECLI:NL:HR:2016:110. Notary public can easily be replaced by lawyer, see Hoge Raad 10 November 2015, ECLI:NL:HR:2015:3258.



Criminal Code


Code of Criminal Procedure


European Convention on Human Rights


European Court of Human Rights


Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering


International Academy of Comparative Law


Information and Communication Technology


International Monetary Fund


Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development


  • Altena AP, Mooijen J (2015) Enkele vragen rondom het professioneel verschoningsrecht in fraudezaken. TPWS 11:16

    Google Scholar 

  • Bannier FAW (2007) Het verschoningsrecht en de ‘affaire Meijering’. NJB 19:1159–1163

    Google Scholar 

  • Blackstock J, Cape E, Hodgson J, Ogordova A, Spronken T (2014) Inside police custody: an empirical account of suspects’ rights in four jurisdictions. Intersentia, Cambridge

    Google Scholar 

  • Blok AJ, Besier LCH (1925) Het Nederlandsche strafproces, vol 1. Tjeenk Willink, Haarlem

    Google Scholar 

  • Brouwer DVA (2017) Modernisering van het Wetboek van Strafvordering: poging tot een tussenbalans. Strafblad 1:99–106

    Google Scholar 

  • Chauveau A, Hélie F (1863) Théorie du Code pénal. Bruylant-Christophe et compagnie volume II, Brussels

    Google Scholar 

  • FATF/OECD, IMF (2011) Mutual evaluation report Netherlands. Accessed 18 Sept 2017

  • Halliday T, Levi M, Reuter P (2014) Global surveillance of dirty money: assessing assessments of regimes to control money-laundering and combat the finance of terrorism. Center on Law & Globalization, Illinois.

  • Hélie F (1866) Traité de l’instruction criminelle, vol 4. Plon, Paris

    Google Scholar 

  • Leenders V (2014) Beperk voor advocaten het verschoningsrecht. Accessed 5 Sept 2017

  • Lintz JM, Verloop PC (2009) Het professioneel verschoningsrecht: soms zijn er grotere belangen dan de waarheidsvinding in strafzaken. Delikt & Delinkwent 10:1039–1066

    Google Scholar 

  • Mooijen J (2013) David en Goliath: zin en onzin van het verschoningsrecht in de commerciële praktijk. Het Financieele Dagblad May 18, 2013:6

    Google Scholar 

  • Mooijen J (2017) Geheimhoudersstukken in een kantooradministratie. Tijdschrift voor Sanctierecht & Onderneming 1:5–12

    Google Scholar 

  • Nan JS (2017) Kroniek van het straf(proces)recht. NJB 35:1012–1026

    Google Scholar 

  • Noorduyn CW, Groendijk FBW (2011) Het niet-vernietigen van geheimhoudersgesprekken: de balans opgemaakt. Strafblad 3:31–38

    Google Scholar 

  • Perez E, Heinerman S (2016) Netherlands. Getting the Deal Through – Legal Privilege & Professional Secrecy 2016:40–44

    Google Scholar 

  • Sluysman JAMA, de Graaff RL (2016) Het avontuurlijke verschoningsrecht. NJB 31:2245–2252

    Google Scholar 

  • Stevens L, Verhoeven WJ (2010) Raadsman bij het politieverhoor. BJu, The Hague

    Google Scholar 

  • Wefers Bettink HW, Hoekstra TP (2012) Legal privilege and confidentiality in the Netherlands. In: Greenwald D, Russenberger M (eds) Privilege and confidentiality: an international handbook, 2nd edn. Bloomsbury Professional, Croydon, pp 209–222

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Joost S. Nan .

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

Copyright information

© 2020 Springer Nature Switzerland AG

About this chapter

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this chapter

Nan, J.S., Verrest, P.A.M. (2020). The Dutch Attorney and His Client. In: Bachmaier Winter, L., Thaman, S., Lynn, V. (eds) The Right to Counsel and the Protection of Attorney-Client Privilege in Criminal Proceedings. Ius Comparatum - Global Studies in Comparative Law, vol 44. Springer, Cham.

Download citation

  • DOI:

  • Published:

  • Publisher Name: Springer, Cham

  • Print ISBN: 978-3-030-43122-8

  • Online ISBN: 978-3-030-43123-5

  • eBook Packages: Law and CriminologyLaw and Criminology (R0)