A lawyer (“advocaat“) advises, litigates and mediates. An advocaat is a member of the Dutch Bar Association. An advocaat is biased by definition and represents only your interest. This makes the role of the advocaat substantially different to the role of the civil law notary.
A civil law notary is a public official and, as such, is authorised (appointed by the King) to draw up (“execute”) officially certified deeds. Certain agreements have to be incorporated in a notarial deed to be valid. For example, when drawing up a will, establishing a private company or the transfer of property like a residence; this cannot take place lawfully without the involvement of a notary. Notaries are members of the Royal Society of Civil Law Notaries. Unlike an advocaat, a civil law notary is an impartial expert who represents the interests of all the parties involved when drawing up a deed.
If an amicable agreemente cannot be reached between parties, the courts are the next port of call. An advocaat is mandatory for court proceedings. There are however exceptions. Cases in which an advocaat is not required and in which the parties can appear in person are civil cases dealt with by the Sub-district section of the court (civil cases involving amounts of no more than EUR 25,000). This also applies if you are a defendant in interlocutory proceedings before the court.