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Interview Series

Adriaan de Buck

Ekelmans Advocaten - Insurance & Corporate, Netherlands

08 May 2019

Legalink gives a lot of positive energy to the firm.

What is new in your firm? 

2018 ended under an unlucky star for our firm due to the passing away of Georg in November. This of course had an enormous impact on the firm. We are still trying to cope with the repercussion of this sad event but I must say that virtually all of his clients stayed aboard. Our corporate and M&A group, which was led by Georg and myself,  came together as a team and this was a positive thing for all to see.

Ekelmans & Meijer is a mid-sized firm of about 35 lawyers. We are  specialised in insurance law and litigation, which is the backbone of our firm together with corporate and M&A, real estate and employment law. We have some special focus areas which we are well-known for on a national level, such as supreme court litigation, as well as the privacy and fraud practice which has a lot of potential. 

We are very pleased with the way our  international cooperation activities are working out for us. Besides Legalink we have become member of an international network called ILG -Insurance Law Global, which is a cooperation of law firms specialising in insurance. Weightmans is heavily involved in this network and made the first contact for us. Last March there was a very interesting conference in London on Cyber Risks and Privacy attended by three of our insurance partners. This looks very promising as the conference involved both lawyers and potential clients. 

Can you mention some interesting deals that your firm was involved in?

One of our partners, Robert Kütemann, handled a famous employment litigation which was noted as a milestone in the Dutch case law in 2018 since he managed to obtain the highest compensation award, based on legislation introduced in 2015, for a manager who had been dismissed.

There was a noteworthy case litigated at the Supreme Court by our fellow partner David de Knijff, representing a trustee in bankruptcy in a dispute with the tax authority relating to the entitlement of the latter to set off tax claims in the situation of bankruptcy. David obtained a positive judgement which will be an important precedent for similar matters.

Annemiek Vermeijden, senior associate and well known within Legalink, successfully handled a professional liability claim against a large tax firm. Annemiek is representing the Dutch family that suffered damages due to a wrongful advice of the tax lawyer. It is a famous case in The Netherlands.

We also did a good job in the M&A practice – I can mention two deals in particular from an international perspective: one was the controlled auction sale of several day-care centres to a U.S. company acting in the Netherlands. And the sale of the shares of a Dutch microchip producing company to a Korean listed entity. This were two cases where I had the honour of acting for the selling shareholders.

How is your experience of work with other Legalink members?

We are very excited about the Legalink network in general and also about the incoming referrals. Lately, what is substantial are the inbound referrals from Mishcon de Reya and Weigthmans. Of course, for historical reasons, we have good connections with the U.K. The cooperation with Weightmans is also harvesting due to the cooperation in ILG.

We also obtained work from Rittershaus (Germany) and we are working closely with Brucher Law (Luxembourg), both for inbound and outbound work.

Georg had moved forward a joint pitch to an European wide printing company and that was an impressive effort for a joint proposal prepared by various Legalink member firms. Although we did not get the assignment, the proposal was very well received and was a good example of the strength of the combined firms. And there was in fact a spin-off assignment that came from the same client regarding the reorganization of a group of printing companies in Spain and Luxembourg. This resulted in outbound referrals to Ventura Garcés & López-Ibor and Brucher Law. I have also had the opportunity to refer a client to Cocuzza & Associati, in Italy.

The cooperation is becoming more and more dynamic. We have been in Legalink since 2016 and we can now say Legalink is living up to our expectations.

How do you view Legalink?

Legalink gives a lot of positive energy to the firm. The recent Legalink Academy took place in Cyprus last April and was attended by two Ekelmans & Meijer representatives. I understand it was very well organised by Andrew Demetriou and his team and our representatives had the occasion to build up connections and relationships. It is nice to see the heritage of Georg is being continued in that way.

The slogan of Legalink is International but Personal and this also being practiced. I believe that Gary Jones and the Committee are achieving this by being involved and committed. Gary Jones attended Georg’s service and this was very important for us. This definitely gives Legalink a personal touch.

On another note, the expansion of the network is obviously progressing. The Committee got a Russian firm onboard and the firm will be represented in Amsterdam. This shows effort and progress in that respect.

We could still progress in the contact in-between conferences. As an example, there was a Luxembourg in January 2018 organised by the Companies, Trust and Taxation Practice Group. I understand there will be a Private Client Meeting in Frankfurt in June 2019.

Legalink Amsterdam Conference

Annemiek Vermeijden has been leading the organization of the Amsterdam conference together with our fellow members and co-hosts Jonker Abeln Advocaten.

We are expecting over 80 people in Amsterdam and we are working hard to assure an exciting conference for all our dear friends from all over the world. Of course at first we will have a special memorial for Georg.

I am particularly excited with our keynote speakers. We will welcome Bernard Wientjes for whom I worked and who was the chairman of the board of the largest employers’ organization in the Netherlands – VNO-NCW, for several years until 2014. Bernard was at the time recognised as the most influential person in the Netherlands for 4 years in a row and today he is still well known and respected. Bernard is still involved in many economical activities, for instance he is the chairman of the supervisory board of KPMG and I am delighted that he will address us at the Amsterdam conference.

Furthermore we will have Wieger Wielinga, the CEO and Founder of Omni Bridgeway and a good friend of mine. Omni Bridgeway is a founder and manager of complex cross border litigation and arbitration for governments, insurers and multinationals. Wieger is a former attorney at Loeff Claeys Verbeke (nowadays Allen & Overy). Wieger will be on the expert panel on International Dispute Resolutions at the Conference on Friday 17 May and he will also attend the M&A PG meeting so he can tell us, as a former attorney, what he as a client expects from an attorney.

A very entertaining social programme is also being arranged which includes time to visit beautiful Amsterdam including the exciting nightlife and a visit to the famous “Zaanse Schans” and the Keukenhof International flower exhibition.

What do you do in your spare time?

I spend time with my family: my wife Margot, my three kids and our dog. My 19 year old daughter is studying law in Leiden, thus entering into Margot’s and my footsteps. Our two boys are very much into sports – football and tennis. I have coached them in the past and now I like to watch them play.

In fact my main goal for the near future is to visit, together with Gary Jones, the Champions League Final in Madrid between Ajax and Liverpool- I hope. And afterwards we will have a nice dinner with Alfonso López-Ibor!