Louis Houwen obtained his degree in Dutch Law with distinction from Radboud University Nijmegen in 1986. He then worked as an academic researcher at the Van der Heijden Institute, the study centre for company law at Radboud University Nijmegen. During this time, in addition to his teaching activities, he carried out national and comparative law research in the field of company law and employee participation law. In 1993, he obtained a PhD from Radboud University Nijmegen on the subject of ‘Liability in groups of companies’, a comparative law study on the position of creditors of affiliated companies in Germany, France, the UK and the Netherlands.
Since 1993, Louis Houwen is a lawyer at Dirkzwager, Advocaten & Notarissen, where he became a partner in 1999. He began in the business law section, concentrating on advice and litigation in company law for businesses in the private sector. From the mid 1990s, his practice and academic interest have shifted almost completely to the public and semi-public sector: government institutions, healthcare and educational organisations, welfare establishments and housing corporations. Since that time, he has also been part of the health law section at Dirkzwager, of which he is now in joint charge. During the past decade, he has specialised in governance and managerial issues involving organisations and enterprises in the non (for) profit sector. His practice is focused primarily on governance issues, developing private initiatives and collaborative partnerships, and on setting up, or shaping the governance structures for, healthcare, welfare and educational institutions and housing corporations.
Louis Houwen is the permanent legal advisor in the field of governance and liability issues and the managerial structure of social enterprises to the Dutch branche organisations in the healthcare sector: (NVZ Dutch Hospitals Association, Vereniging Gehandicaptenzorg Nederland (association of care for the handicapped organisations in the Netherlands), ActiZ (organisation of healthcare enterprises), GGZ Nederland (association of mental healthcare organisations in the Netherlands) and the BoZ, (Brancheorganisaties Zorg). He also acts on behalf of the MO Groep, which is concerned with social welfare, youth care and childcare. He advises the BoZ on policy proposals in relation to social enterprise and on the new Clients’ Right (Care Sector) Act, and is also author and advisor on the drawing up of the NVZ Code of Governance (2004), the Health Care Governance Code (2006) and the formation and implementation of the Governance Committee of the Healthcare Arbitration Tribunal. It was partly as a result of his proposal that the revised Health Care Governance Code 2010 was introduced on 1 January 2010 as a viable alternative to the criticised Social Enterprise legislative proposals.
In addition to his activities in the advisory practice, Louis Houwen conducts research and regularly publishes academic and practice-oriented articles on governance structures of social enterprises, new types of enterprise and legal structures in the semi public sector and governance and liability issues that affect private organisations in the non (for) profit sector. He also gives lectures on these topics at conferences and symposia and regularly gives lessons during master classes for supervisory boards, managers and for students.