A 64-year-old notary from Drenthe has been reprimanded by the Notary Chamber in Arnhem for “unacceptably mixing his sexual private affairs with the exercise of his profession,” the NRC reported Sunday.
The disciplinary case was initiated by two colleagues with whom he shares a partnership. They accused him of professional misconduct and engaging in inappropriate sexual activities in the office during working hours.
Despite the reprimand, both complainants plan to appeal the decision, asserting that there is sufficient grounds to have their colleague removed from the notary profession.
Allegations of misconduct and dysfunction
The notary in question, Hans Veldkamp, who heads the Veldkamp & Prins notary office in Drenthe, faced a litany of accusations. Missing original documents in the safe, failing to file notes in official records, taking client files home against regulations, last-minute rescheduling of appointments, and frequent absence during office hours were among the allegations against him.
The disciplinary case gained attention not only for the serious allegations but also for being the first instance where a notary’s sexual behavior became the subject of a disciplinary review. According to colleagues Harriët Prins and Astrid Mink, Veldkamp is “dysfunctional” and reportedly struggling with a “sex addiction,” making him “vulnerable to extortion.”
The case unfolded when employees raised concerns about Veldkamp’s private life which they claimed affected his professional conduct. A registry clerk reported inadvertently discovering explicit messages on adult websites and intimate poems for a mistress on the office computer. Another colleague testified to clients being repeatedly canceled on short notice due to the notary’s alleged sexual engagements outside the office.
Veldkamp, a well-known figure in the Drenthe community, did little to conceal his private escapades in the office, leading to questions about the boundaries between personal and professional life.
Explicit evidence and workplace oddities
Witnesses revealed the presence of a sports bag in the office containing lingerie, underwear, and high heels. Allegedly, erotic aids, particularly ropes and lubricants, were stored in one of the meeting rooms. Furthermore, an employee discovered a detailed agreement between Veldkamp and a couple, exchanging sexual services for payment, to be conducted at the notary office during specific hours.
Notably, the complaint against Veldkamp also highlighted his influence over his colleagues and the questionable workplace culture he fostered. The employees accused him of imposing restrictions on discussing certain topics and maintaining a secretive atmosphere, which they alleged contributed to an uncomfortable working environment.
As the disciplinary case unfolded, attempts were made to mediate and find a resolution outside the disciplinary process. However, these efforts failed, and the two complainants rejected proposals that would allow Veldkamp to continue in a limited capacity after stepping down as a notary. The mediation process revealed deep divides within the partnership, with the future of the notary office hanging in the balance.
Disciplinary measures and criticism
In an unexpected turn of events, the disciplinary judge (tuchtrechter) found the evidence of professional misconduct insufficient but still imposed a disciplinary measure. Veldkamp received a reprimand for engaging in “boundary-crossing sexual escapades during office hours, seriously damaging the honor, reputation, and trust in the notary profession.”
According the the NRC, the decision has raised many eyebrows, with legal experts and critics deeming the reprimand inadequate for the severity of the alleged offenses. The complainants have announced their intention to appeal, emphasizing that the disciplinary measure does not logically align with the serious nature of the violations.
The case has sparked discussions about the boundaries of professional conduct, workplace culture, and the appropriate response to egregious behavior within a respected public office.
Image: Google (2024) Bloemdijk, Borger. Available at: https://www.google.com/ (Accessed: 29 January 2024).