(Legal Valley emerged from a shared lobby to keep the Court in Arnhem. As a front, the province of Gelderland, city councils, knowledge institutions and businesses, made it clear to the parliament and Government that the Court is of paramount importance to the region East Netherlands. And with success. The Court stays.)
As a former president of the Arnhem Court, Chairman Fred Hammerstein of the Legal Valley Foundation knows better than anyone, why this institution is important. “The Court promotes an attractive legal environment and provides many employment opportunities. It’s very interesting for law firms to have a court in their environment. If you remove the Court in Arnhem, you’re removing a pearl from the legal structure in this region.”
(the Board of Legal Valley)
“We are aware of the magnitude and importance of the legal sector in this region,” says lawyer Bart van Meer. He's a member of the board of Legal Valley on behalf of the Arnhem Entrepreneurs Association OKA and the Dutch Association for Entrepreneurs, VNO-NCW. “Think about it: the District Court and the Court of Appeal, including the Penitentiary Court and the Military Court which is unique in the Netherlands.”
He continues “Furthermore, we have the Public Prosecution Department and over 400 law firms in this region. Add to that the legal educational programs (Colleges of Arnhem and Nijmegen) the Radioed University and its Law School. It’s obvious that it concludes in a strong legal force and a strength we can utilize even more. “
A high quality legal sector is an important factor for the economy, says Fred Hammerstein, former member of the Supreme Court. “The World Bank considers a solid legal structure as one of the three main conditions for economic development.”
Van Meer:” This region is known for several top sectors like the health sector in Nijmegen, the food sector in Wageningen and the energy sector in Arnhem. The sectors and companies benefit from a strong legal structure because they face many complex issues. You often see that companies position themselves in proximity to law firms. This strengthens the regional economy and increases employment opportunities.”
Legal Valley offers transparency in the legal landscape of Gelderland and connects all parties involved. Law firms, the public prosecutor, District Court, Court of Appeal, Government, education, businesses, and so on. In addition to a management board, there is also an advisory board with among others, the Commissioner of the King and the President of the Court of Arnhem-Leeuwarden.
The kick-off of Legal Valley was the Congress of Society & Law, March 7th, 2017 in the Congress Center Parental. This year's theme was: ‘Privacy, a delight or a burden?’
The aim of this event was to combine knowledge and information from the participants on all aspects of privacy.
Ultimately this should lead to a document containing proposals that align privacy legislation (rules and legislation) even better with the daily practice. This document will be presented to the Dutch Data Protection Authority (DPA).
Combining knowledge and information is a central theme in the activities of Legal Valley. For example, Legal Valley will organize meetings where, among others, judges, lawyers and entrepreneurs talk about their current affairs and challenges. Meetings where parties get to know each other in order to create more transparency between the different stakeholders.
Hammerstein: “If you exchange knowledge in a particular context, such as Legal Valley, you will increase the overall quality of the legal system, the legal profession and of corporate lawyers. And therefore you’ll improve the legal services to society.”
(B. van Meer & F. Hammerstein)
No ivory tower
Hammerstein: ”During the time I was President of the Court, it was inappropriate to go to receptions of, for example, law firms. But times have changed. If you do not know what's going on in the legal profession, at Law Firms and in the Government; if the legal system is positioned in an ivory tower, you’ll miss out on the development of the legal market. And - very important – by not sharing knowledge and information the inhibitory effect on the development of the legal system and its laws will increase. E.g. a dynamic area as health care, asks for constant attention or the digitization, which puts much greater demands on lawyers, etc. Some law firms already collaborate in these areas and on these topics. From a judiciary perspective we can learn from this collaboration.”
Van Meer: “Or about ICT law itself, which is still in full development. About fifteen years ago it didn’t even exist. As Lawyers are drafting contracts, the focus of a lot of (new) developments in this area lies with these lawyers. There is a delayed effect on rulings and legislation from a judiciary point of view. If something goes wrong, it will take two, three years for the parties involved to meet each other in court and the judges still may require more input than available. Besides this example there are many more fast developing topics/areas, such as the previously mentioned privacy topic. Legal Valley is an initiative to share developments, needs knowledge and information on topics.” Hammerstein: “The rules always inevitably fall behind on the societal reality. First, the technique and then the rules. We want to bring those societal developments and the law closer together in a network where parties share knowledge and work together.”
Hammerstein continues “We can make this leap forward by creating a legal environment that produces new ideas and plans, which is then presented to the outside world. With this - and in combination with the choice of 3 for this region important fields/topics (health, food and energy) we are pioneers in the Netherlands and we draw an increasing amount of attention to this region. Look at Eindhoven, the design city of the Netherlands. Ten years ago no one had heard of it. We can do something similar with Legal Valley for our region in the east of the Netherlands”
When asked what Legal Valley will look like in ten years, Van Meer replied: "I believe that the eastern part of the Netherlands will by then be a stronghold of legal knowledge and other regions will knock on our door for expertise. There is already a shift in legal areas/practice areas at law firms from the big cities in the western part of the Netherlands to the other regions. As Rotterdam, The Hague and Amsterdam were dominant in the number of law firms and practice areas, nowadays you see a migration to the (suburban) offices in other parts of the Netherlands. E.g. You’ll find top firms on labor law, law concerning Healthcare and real estate moving from the big 4 cities to other regions in the Netherlands”.
Hammerstein: "By combining and sharing knowledge you can strengthen and broaden your position and the effects from Legal Valley will accelerate the legal developments.”