Life in The Hague

11 April 2016

Dutch flagIn January 2014, David Hammond and Lisa Williams – Associates at Haseltine Lake – moved out to The Hague to lead our office there. Just over two years on, we catch up with them to find out how life is living in The Hague…

Q: Hi David and Lisa! What sort of clients are you working with?

DH: We work with a mix of SMEs, start-ups and universities. In addition, we both support companies originating from the Yes!Delft incubator for companies spun out of the Technical University of Delft. I work closely with Leiden University and a number of spin-outs based on the Leiden Bio-Science Park, focussing on technology in the life sciences sector. 

LW: In addition to what David has mentioned, I do a lot of work with a business incubator located at the European Space Agency (ESA) site at Noordwijk (ESA-BIC), where I help to shape IP strategy for start-ups located there. I’m also involved in an ESA panel to assess applications from prospective companies wishing to be part of the incubator program. The start-ups all take space sector technology and apply it to other technology sectors, which is really interesting!

Q: What is the benefit of being based in The Hague?

DH: Many of our local clients are start-ups or SMEs, and appreciate that we can easily and quickly arrange face-to-face meetings to talk them through any complex IP issues they may not have encountered before. It’s also easy for us to meet with local university academics or inventors at local larger corporate clients in person to talk through invention disclosures, before drafting patent applications. The benefit is not just to our local clients – with our proximity to the European Patent Office at Rijswijk, we are often asked by colleagues in other offices to handle oral hearings at the EPO for their clients. When travelling, other colleagues also use the office here to prepare for the hearing.

Q: How does it differ from living and working in the UK?

LW: Our office in The Hague is a smaller office than either of our UK offices and the working environment is very different. We have fewer colleagues to talk to and bounce ideas off (without picking up the phone), but therefore fewer people to interrupt you when you need to get your head down and finish a piece of work! Living in The Hague is very easy as it’s such an international city, with so many international institutions and nationalities represented – there’s almost no need to learn Dutch as English is a second language here. One clear difference is that the best way to travel in the Netherlands is by bike. The Netherlands is set up perfectly with bike lanes and so you feel very safe. I hadn’t been on a bike for about 15 years before moving to The Hague, now I can’t live without it. I’m not quite up to the Dutch level of cycling – you often see people cycling, holding an umbrella in one hand and their phone in the other, whilst still somehow managing to negotiate corners!

One of the downsides is that you are further away from family and friends, so we make an effort to keep in touch with people and plan visits back to UK.

Q: What is your favourite thing about living and working in The Hague?

DH: Living and working abroad is challenging at times, but being in The Hague does make it easy. The Hague is a city, but it doesn’t have the hectic and busy feel of larger cities such as Amsterdam or London, and so the pace of life naturally seems a bit slower. The Dutch are generally very keen on their work-life balance, so it’s not unusual for bars or cafes to be busy from 5pm onwards. One of the pleasantly surprising things about The Hague is that there is a long, sandy beach at Scheveningen which is only a 15 minute cycle ride away.

On the work front, part of our remit of working in The Hague is to attend lots of conferences and events, expanding our network of contacts. Attending these events and seeing the amount of innovation happening in the Netherlands is a refreshing break from the hours spent in the office.

Q: Where’s your favourite place to visit, or where would you recommend in The Hague?

LW: Apart from the beach at Scheveningen, there are two squares in The Hague (the Plein and the Grote Markt), with numerous cafes and bars with outdoor seating, which are lovely. A Dutch delicacy is apple cake served with a huge helping of cream, and sitting on the square with a coffee and apple cake, watching the world go by is a national pastime.

There are some good Indonesian restaurants here, from when Indonesia was part of the Dutch empire, and it’s best to order a “rijsttafel”, so you get a selection of many different dishes to try. There are also some very good seafood restaurants in the city centre and at the harbour near Scheveningen, so you are spoiled for choice when it comes to eating out!

DH: Culturally, The Hague has several museums – the Mauritshuis is probably the most famous, housing Vermeer’s paintings of The Girl with the Pearl Earring and the View of Delft, along with many other works of art from the Dutch Masters. The Panorama Mesdag and Escher museum are also well worth a visit. The Hague is also close to Leiden and Delft, which are both iconic Dutch cities with canals, narrow streets and lots of bicycles. 

Lisa Williams

Lisa Williams

Partner

David Hammond

David Hammond

Partner

Our Experts
David Hammond
David Hammond
Location: Bristol (UK) The Netherlands (NL)
Lisa Williams
Lisa Williams
Location: Bristol (UK) The Netherlands (NL)

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