Public Law

Public Law

The growth in Dutch and European regulation has an effect on all sectors. The relationship between government bodies and market parties is governed by regulation in areas such as financial and other supervision, the environment, spatial planning, land, procurement, health and safety, and tax. Houthoff's Public Law Team assists government bodies, domestic companies and foreign corporations. That's why our public law specialists understand the challenges and opportunities for both public and private clients. As the public law market leader, Houthoff is always involved in the most ground-breaking and complex public law related cases. This can involve anything from giving advice on public-private partnerships and litigating licence or subsidy cases to managing complex crisis situations. Our Public Law Team is also regularly asked to give the legislature advice on new laws and regulations. Our specialists understand the language of government bodies and supervisory authorities and they understand the market. This unique combination means that the services we offer are unrivalled. 

  • “According to one interviewee, the team is ‘knowledgeable and creative.’”
    Chambers Europe, Public Law ( 2019 Edition)
  • "Clients note a 'great collaboration,' working with a 'committed team' that is 'very forward-thinking'."
    Chambers Europe, Public Law ( 2018 Edition)
  • "Clients say the department is responsive, and the team's advice is pertinent and positive: 'They are very available, to the point and always keep an eye on the interest of us as their client. They also will put forward our position or statements in a strong but acceptable way to the other party'."
    Chambers Europe, Public Law ( 2018 Edition)
  • "Sources enthuse that the team is made up of 'outstanding, highly responsive and very knowledgeable people to work with'."
    Chambers Europe, Public Law (2017 Edition)
  • Other clients say the firm's "performance was extremely good: they had strong dedication to our case and good knowledge of its contents beyond just the legal issues."
    Chambers Europe, Public Law (2017 Edition)

Our expertise in public law matters

Houthoff is the trusted adviser for many large companies with regard to the public law aspects of their businesses. Our Public Law Team comprises specialists in the areas of planning and zoning law (environmental law), and specialists in the areas of financial and public economic law. Houthoff is involved in the most important spatial development projects, and advises developers and government bodies from the drawing board until completion.

Our public law specialists have comprehensive legal expertise and sector knowledge and they assist parties in matters such as internal investigations, regulatory issues with supervisory authorities and enforcement processes. If necessary, they represent clients in proceedings before bodies like the Administrative Jurisdiction Division of the Council of State or the Trade and Industry Appeals Tribunal.

Our changing society means that we need to have a better understanding of public governance and its correct application. Our Public Law Team has gained a special position in this area and advises companies and government bodies on investigations related to governance.

Houthoff is one of the founders of Pro Bono Connect, the first Dutch public interest clearing house. NGOs like Amnesty International and PAX have sought the advice of our experts via this organisation on highly politically-sensitive issues like human rights and sustainability.

Our Public Law Team works closely together with our specialists in areas such as M&A, real estate, procedural law, procurement, and EU and competition. Together with our sector-specific focus (including health, energy, governance, construction and IT) this multi-disciplinary approach leads to well-considered advice and pragmatic solutions. We provide solutions for today and for the future.

  • Houthoff represents the public service provider in the mobility chain, RDW, in the zoning procedure relating to its 60 hectares test centre located next to Lelystad Airport, where it i.a. tests cars and tires for the Dutch market against strict international and national standards.
  • Advising and representing PPG Industries in their environmental and safety compliance and permitting matters for all Dutch facility locations.
  • Advising the Ministry of Infrastructure & Environment on various key legislative initiatives, including the new Environment and Planning Act, innovative environmental and planning instruments and land readjustment law, experimenting with new legal instruments and striving for creative solutions in complex matters. As a member of various expert teams, Houthoff provides hands-on advice to the projects involved, which include large area developments, harbours and large infrastructural projects.
  • Houthoff is the lead counsel to the private owner of the vast Dutch polder Duchess Hedwige (adjacent to the Belgian border in the southern part of the Province of Zeeland). Houthoff advises the owner and litigates against the Dutch Government regarding the planned project of the Dutch Government to submerge the privately-owned polder (more than 300 hectares of cultivated land) and turn it into estuarine nature. This submerging plan of the polder Hedwige is currently a major international political issue between both the Dutch and Belgian governments and the European Commission. Litigation against the State Zoning Plan Duchess Hedwige before the Dutch Council of State, as well as against the decision of the Dutch Government to expropriate 300 hectares of privately-owned land. An expropriation of this scale is unique in the Netherlands.
  • Investigating the sale of land by a Dutch water authority (administrative body) to a private party and the involvement of the chairman of the water authority board. Based on our findings, we advised the water authority on the next steps with regard to publication, legal actions, and lessons learned. As a consequence the water authority adapted its internal line of communication and decision making.
  • Advising and representing Tata Steel, one of Europe's largest steel plants, on their most important environmental permits and enforcement procedures.
  • Advising university medical centres in public tender procedures for IT and electronic medical files.
  • Advising and representing Organik Kimya, a chemical plant in the Rotterdam harbour area, regarding their environmental and safety issues.
  • Advising and representing RAI Amsterdam regarding the zoning plan “Amsterdam RAI” which comprises the development of a large hotel and parking garage at the site of RAI Amsterdam.
Marry de Gaay Fortman

Key Contact

Advocaat | Partner
+31 20 605 61 65
+31 6 5375 8942
Jan Frans de Groot

Key Contact

Advocaat | Partner
+31 20 605 65 44
+31 6 5152 7324