Its All about Contracts

As the world is becoming increasingly complex, General Counsel are seeking ways to make contracts more accessible, the pursuit of their enforcement easier and their contents more accurate. Contracts are complicated enough to manage on their own, let alone when taking into account the increasing number of tools and methods available for your benefit. This complexity is further aggravated when taken in combination with global issues like Brexit. Not only may it be difficult for GCs and their teams to stay up to date with such developments, it may furthermore be difficult to ascertain the right approach and solution to your particular situation, to give you that extra edge. Therefore, this year’s General Counsel NL Fall Congress gave a brief insight into new developments within the scope of contracts alongside exposing some new perspectives to some fundamental questions concerning contracts.

 

Lincoln Frakes | Netherlands Commercial Court

The day was opened in the impressive setting of Raad voor de Rechtspraak by the first speaker, Lincoln Frakes, a judge at the soon to be operating Netherlands Commercial Court (NCC). In the recent past there has been an increase in demand for courts specialised in disputes of an international nature. Based in the heart of Amsterdam, this Court plans to do just that.

 

Duco Oranje | Netherlands Commercial Court

Mr. Oranje, also a judge at the NCC, provided the General Counsel an interesting overview of the courts with which the NCC will be competing. In conclusion, the NCC is in a very competitive position, offering efficient proceedings in English by virtue of the well regarded Dutch procedural code for a competitive price tag. Undercutting the fees of the London Commercial Court and far more cost-efficient than the remedy of arbitration in general, the NCC will provide a competent alternative for future international disputes. One downside to the lower fees, as Mr. Oranje humorously noted, intimidating your opponent to settle through the use of court fees is not as an attractive option anymore.

 

2018 GCN Benchmark Inquiry and Roundtables

After all attendees, with a little persuasion, were successfully shepherded from a networking activity back to the stage, Michiel van Straaten offered a teaser to the General Counsel NL 2018 Benchmark Survey. This revealed that among General Counsel, the legal department is growing and more technology is employed to increase the quality of the service provided. Furthermore, after a consistent gradual upward trend in average salary of a General Counsel appears to now have stabilised at EUR 170,000 with men still earning EUR 7,000 above the mean. Michiel ended the teaser with some very good news, although two years have passed since the last Benchmark Inquiry, the average counsel, including yourself, have grown one year younger.

Following this, everyone disappeared to their chosen two General Counsel NL Roundtables dispersed throughout the unique setting of the Raad voor de Rechtspraak. The building, previously a bank, was renovated in such a way to preserve its history; the vaults transformed in areas rich in character and structural elements of the building left exposed made for a compelling atmosphere. There were a total of thirteen topics of roundtables to choose from, extending from robotics and contract management to Brexit and its impact on contracts. Each roundtable was led by the assigned moderators and led to engaging conversations.

 

Maurits Fornier | Fornier Legal Design

To end the day, Maurits Fornier exposed the General Counsel to a new perspective on how design can be relevant to contracts. When his team and him brought a visual diagram of the dispute in question to court, the sitting judge found it very helpful; after all, a judge is only human too. Through three examples,  Mr. Fornier revealed how the use of sleek infographics can assist employees, the board, supervisors and ultimately the customer. For instance, adding design elements to a contract makes it more accessible to the wide public. Through doing this, one removes the tedious process of puzzling together the terms of the contract, this could save employees and customers valuable time. The time freed from tedious tasks can be allocated elsewhere. The point of legal design, as Mr. Fornier emphasised, is not to replace conventional contracts but to facilitate them. This was excellently portrayed by way of an example where the simplification of a complex hierarchical organisation, through the use of a chart, at once became abundantly clear what decisions by which bodies are made through which voting procedure. This saves the board valuable time from having to scan through lengthy legal documents to establish who has what authority.

To bring a proper conclusion to the night, drinks, bitterballen and a pleasant atmosphere were served.

 

Presentations of key note speakers

Duco Oranje en Lincoln Frakes – How to make your contracts stand up in court

Maurits Fornier – Legal Design

 

Pictures of the General Counsel Netherlands Fall Congress

Here you find the pictures of the GC NL Fall Congress.