Get to know the board: Erik Witjens
Joining Steven Verhaar as a new member to the board, Erik Witjens was also elected during the last general assembly. His term started per the first of January 2022. Who is this second new board member?
My affinity with the maritime sector tends to surprise people somewhat: most people don’t expect a criminal defence attorney to be at home in this field. I must admit it all started somewhat by chance, because in the early days of my career as a criminal defence attorney I worked on a landmark case concerning the recycling of ships. The specifics of the maritime industry really spoke to me, which is how my attention became more and more focused on the maritime sector.
The name of our firm reflects this focus: it is called De Reede Advocatuur. A ‘reede’, in Dutch, might be translated as ‘safe anchorage’, while ‘advocatuur’ means ‘practice of law’. The idea behind the name is that our clients are also in need of a place that provides protection from adverse conditions. Many of these clients are active in the maritime industry or located in the port of Rotterdam and its surroundings.
My partner in crime – although not literally – at the firm, Eva van Luijk, was a colleague of mine at the start of our respective careers. Both of us defended our PhD theses in criminal law at Groningen University. While Eva gained practical experience at different inspectorates, I started at a law firm. Now this combined experience is beneficial for the types of situations our clients face, as we exclusively assist companies and individuals at risk of criminal prosecution or sanctions under administrative law.
Being able to participate in RMSC as a board member, with the aim of strengthening our profile as service providers to the maritime industry, really appeals to me. RMSC is one of the smaller trade associations in the port of Rotterdam, but has a lot to offer. Each of our members provides a service that – at some point or other – is indispensable for the maritime sector. I look forward to working with the other board members and our manager Linda Treuman in generating more visibility for our member’s industries.
Through events and co-operation with other parties, RMSC creates opportunities for its members to be seen and to strengthen their network. In a way, every member is an ambassador for the added value of our community. Obviously, the goal of RMSC is to effectively showcase the added value of its members for the maritime industry. In my opinion, a healthy services community is essential for a successful business climate for the maritime industry.
2022 started on a high note with the recognition of Rotterdam as one of the leading maritime cities of the world, ranking second only behind Singapore. I am looking forward to the next period in which we can build upon that recognition and continue to display the added value of our community to Rotterdam and beyond. Furthermore, I hope to see everyone at the events!