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The faces behind the front door of Expat Legal Advice
For this interview, I was again visiting the Riouwstraat number 172 where, besides the Esperanto Institute on the first floor, the office of Brugrecht Advocaten is located on the ground floor.
Here I had a nice conversation with Ms. Annemarie Wiesmeier (Brugrecht Advocaten), Ms. Floor Holstege (Holstege Attorneys and Mediation) and Ms. Willemijn van Sandick (Vastrecht Belastingadviseurs). In addition to running their own office, they also form “Expat Legal Advice”.
Expat Legal Advice offers a “one-stop shop” for expats on advice and assistance in case of legal and tax issues / disputes in a fair, clear and personal manner at competitive rates, as I read the website. After my conversation with the ladies, I am convinced that these are not loose words. They have international experience and have lived abroad, and therefore understand the problems that expats abroad can face because of a language barrier or the lack of knowledge about the legal system in the Netherlands. In addition, they have mastered the English language, which is not only indispensable but complicated in complex legal issues and mediation.
Expats often fail to find the way in our legal and bureaucratic world. They may work for big international companies. For housing, they have a big budget but they have to choose it themselves. Then it is often difficult to find the right help when looking for a house, good tax advice or mediation (expats are also ordinary people and therefore divorce!). There is a clear “gap” in the market and we are filling in that, Willemijn reported. In addition, they receive “personal” attention that is extremely appreciated. The ladies, with their personal service, offer an alternative to colleagues at large, traditional law firms who – sometimes wrongly but often too – are known as expensive, less accessible and more focused on revenue than on the client.
By bundling their forces, they can use the expertise and jurisdictions of all three and can now expedite them for several things. Ideal anyway?
Huurrecht & Vastgoedrecht (Brugrecht Advocaten). I often find that in hiring situations, expats are forced to pay unwarranted rent increases or extension of rent under additional terms. Or, without legal grounds, the rent is terminated, Annemarie reported. Because expats do not know better, they are wrong to agree. I help expats in preventing them from being “exploited” in this way. Also in case of purchase, sale, or building disputes, as well as in VvE disputes, I assist expats with advice.
Family Law & Mediation (Divorce Attorneys and Mediation) A divorce nevertheless gives a lot of stress and emotion, especially when children are involved and you live abroad, too. Then it’s very nice when mediation can be handled with me. And I also speak their language, according to Floor. Additionally, you have to take into account international rules and there is not any family lawyer at home.
Tax law (Fixed tax advisors) Expats have many questions about tax law, Willemijn reported. We provide advice, declarations and administration in every tax area. Consider income tax returns when an expat is buying or selling a house or in which a divorce must be processed. Or for an expat living in one country and working in the other country or working for an international organization (the exemptions do not solve everything!).
When the client’s question falls outside our disciplines, we will consult external experts such as e.g. a notary or broker we cooperate with.
Do you, as a non-expat, need legal or tax advice? Then visit the website www.expatlegaladvice.nl and send an email stating your problem or question.
Josephine de Vijlder (pac 24 October 2017)