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Agency Dispute in the Netherlands

Agency dispute in the Netherlands

Are you currently caught up in a commercial agency dispute in the Netherlands? This article will provide you with a comprehensive analysis of the Dutch Civil Code (“Book 7”) and the Dutch Procedural Act (“Burgerlijk Wetboek van Rechtsvordering”), which governs such legal disputes. The Dutch Civil Code, derived from the Council Directive, establishes precise requirements for agreements and minimum obligations for both commercial agents and principals. We will delve into various aspects of this law, including remuneration and commission regulations, validity criteria for non-compete clauses, and commission calculation methods.

Furthermore, we will explore liability and termination provisions, such as termination by notice and termination for cause under compelling reasons. Finally, we will discuss the rights of commercial agents to indemnification for bringing in new customers or significantly growing existing customer relationships. So, if you’re currently facing a commercial agency dispute in the Netherlands, keep reading to gain the necessary insights for a successful resolution.

Key Takeaways

  • Dutch agency contracts are regulated by the Dutch Civil Code (Book 7);
  • Termination of commercial agency contracts in the Netherlands requires proper notice, usually determined by the agreement.
  • Notice requirements for termination depend on the agreed terms, and failure to comply may result in claims for damages.
  • Termination can occur through proper notice, breach of contract, death, or bankruptcy, and may entitle terminated agents to compensation for losses and investments.

Definition of Dutch Agency Contracts

To understand the concept of Dutch agency contracts, it’s important to start with a clear definition. Dutch agency contracts are agreements between a principal and an agent, outlining the agent’s authority, duties, and payment terms. These contracts are regulated by the Dutch Agency Law (Article 7:428 DCC), which is based on the Council Directive 86/653 (EEC).

Article 7:428 Definition of ‘commercial agency agreement

1. A commercial agency agreement is an agreement in which one of the parties (‘the principal’) instructs the other party (‘the agent’), who has engaged himself to this instruction on payment of a commission (remuneration), to provide intermediary services in arranging contracts to be concluded by the principal with third persons and, where appropriate, to conclude such contracts in the name and for account of the principal, without being his subordinate; the commercial agency agreement may be effective between the principal and the agent for a fixed term or for an indefinite term.

The Dutch Civil Code requires an agreement and imposes minimum obligations on both the commercial agent and the principal. Remuneration and commission are also regulated, with the Dutch Civil Code limiting the freedom to fix the level of remuneration. Non-compete clauses and the calculation of commission are subject to validity criteria and consideration of relevant factors.

The legal framework for agency disputes in the Netherlands is established by the Dutch Civil Code (‘Boek 7 BW’). This law outlines the rights and obligations of both the commercial agent and the principal. It requires a written agreement and imposes minimum obligations on both parties. The Dutch Civil Code also regulates remuneration and commission, limiting the freedom to fix the level of remuneration. Non-compete clauses and the calculation of commission are subject to validity criteria and consideration of relevant factors. Liability and termination are also covered under this law, allowing for termination by notice and termination for cause under compelling reasons. The commercial agent is entitled to indemnification if they bring new customers or significantly increase business with existing customers. In summary, the Dutch Civil Code provides a comprehensive legal framework for resolving commercial agency disputes in the Netherlands.

Termination of Commercial Agency Contracts under Dutch law

If you’re involved in a commercial agency dispute in the Netherlands, it’s important to understand the process of terminating commercial agency contracts under Dutch law. Termination of commercial agency contracts in the Netherlands requires proper notice, which can be determined by agreement or default rules. The Dutch Agency Law governs the termination of commercial agency contracts and provides guidelines for the termination notice period.

Article 7:437 DCC: termination of the commercial agency agreement

1. If the commercial agency agreement has been entered into for an indefinite term of for a fixed term under the right of premature termination, then each of the parties is entitled to terminate the agreement with due observance of the agreed term of notice. When the commercial agency agreement does not provide an agreed term of notice, the term of notice will be four months, extended by one month when the agreement has been effective for three years and by two months after six years.
2. The term of notice cannot be shorter than one month in the first year of the agreement, two months in the second year and three months in the next years. If parties agree upon longer periods, then the term of notice which the principal has to observe may not be shorter than the term of notice that is to be observed by the agent.
3. The commercial agency agreement must be terminated at an effective termination date at the end of a calendar month.

Notice Requirements for Termination under Dutch law

Your notice requirements for termination of a commercial agency contract in the Netherlands depend on the terms agreed upon between you and the principal. However, in the absence of a specified notice period, reasonable prior notice is required. It’s important to provide written notice clearly stating the reasons for termination. Failure to comply with proper notice requirements may result in claims for damages. In certain circumstances, termination without prior notice may be possible. To ensure compliance with notice requirements, it’s advisable to review your commercial agency agreement and any applicable laws or regulations. Additionally, seeking legal advice can help clarify any uncertainties and ensure that you meet all necessary obligations.

Consequences of Termination Under Dutch Law

After termination of a commercial agency contract in the Netherlands, you may experience various consequences under Dutch law. Termination can occur through proper notice by either party, as long as it adheres to the contract and applicable laws. If the termination is due to a breach of contract, the party at fault may be liable to compensate the other party for any losses suffered. In the case of death or bankruptcy of a party, termination can also occur, but proper written notice with reasons is essential. Failure to provide proper notice may result in claims for damages. Terminated agents may be entitled to compensation for losses and investments made during the agency relationship. Additionally, termination may lead to the cessation of related agreements, settlement of outstanding debts, and payment of commissions due to the agent. It’s important to consult Dutch law and seek professional advice to fully understand the specific consequences of termination in a commercial agency dispute.

Obligations After Termination on Dutch law

Once the commercial agency contract is terminated under Dutch law, you’re obligated to fulfill certain obligations. These obligations include:

  • Returning any property or documents belonging to the principal: After the termination of the agency, you must promptly return any property or documents that belong to the principal. This includes any samples, marketing materials, or confidential information that may have been provided to you during the course of the agency relationship.
  • Ceasing to represent the principal: After the termination, you’re no longer authorized to act on behalf of the principal. You must refrain from holding yourself out as their agent or conducting any business activities on their behalf.
  • Non-compete obligations: In some cases, the agency contract may include a non-compete clause. If this is the case, you must comply with any restrictions on competing with the principal’s business for a certain period of time after the termination.

It is important to fulfill these obligations after the termination of the agency to avoid any potential disputes or legal consequences.

Dispute Resolution in the Netherlands

To resolve commercial agency disputes in the Netherlands, parties can pursue litigation in Dutch courts. Dutch courts have jurisdiction to determine the existence and terms of an agency contract, and litigation can be pursued in any district court in the country. However, it’s advisable to attempt to settle disputes amicably and seek legal assistance or alternative dispute resolution methods, such as arbitration or mediation. In cases where the dispute arises from an international agency agreement, parties may also consider submitting the dispute to a foreign jurisdiction or arbitration. The Netherlands is a party to several treaties governing dispute resolution, providing additional options for resolving commercial agency disputes. It’s important to note that Dutch courts apply Dutch law for disputes under a Dutch agency contract, and the amount awarded for compensatory damages will depend on the extent of the damage caused.

Compensation Claims for Commercial Agents

If you’re a commercial agent in the Netherlands, you may be entitled to compensation for lost profits and incurred costs upon termination of your contract. Compensation claims for commercial agents can encompass various elements, including:

  • Lost Profits: You may be able to claim compensation for the profits that you’d have earned if the contract hand’t been terminated. This can include both the immediate loss of income and any future income that you’d have reasonably expected to receive.
  • Incurred Costs: You may also be able to claim compensation for any costs that you have incurred as a result of your work as a commercial agent. This can include expenses such as travel costs, marketing expenses, and any other costs that are directly related to your role as an agent.
  • Investments Made: If you have made any investments in relation to the contract, such as purchasing specialized equipment or investing in training, you may be able to claim compensation for these investments.
  • Goodwill under Dutch law: If you have made any investments in relation to the business, a goodwill remuneration may apply by Article 7:442 DCC (see hereinafter).

It is important to note that the specific amount of compensation you may be entitled to will depend on various factors, including the nature and duration of the contract. Additionally, it’s crucial to be aware that the right to compensation may lapse if not notified within one year of termination. Therefore, it’s advisable to seek legal advice promptly if you believe you have a valid claim for compensation as a commercial agent.

Goodwill Compensation for Agents in the Netherlands

How can you secure goodwill compensation as a commercial agent in the Netherlands? In the event of termination, agents in the Netherlands may be entitled to compensation for losses, including lost profits and incurred costs. Goodwill compensation, also known as indemnity, can be awarded to agents who brought in new customers or significantly increased business with existing customers. The amount of compensation depends on the nature of the contract and can include one year’s remuneration based on the average of the last five years.However, the payment of indemnity is subject to fairness and must be notified within one year of termination. Dutch courts consider factors such as length of service and salary level in determining appropriate compensation for terminated agents. Agents in the Netherlands need to be aware of their rights and pursue rightful goodwill compensation in commercial agency disputes:

Article 7:442 DCC: Goodwill compensation

– 1. Irrespective of the right to claim a compensation for damages, the agent is entitled to a goodwill compensation at the end of the commercial agency agreement, as far as:
a. he has introduced new customers to the principal or he has considerably extended the number or value of the contracts with existing customers and, in both events, the contracts with these customers still produce considerable advantages for the principal, and;
b. the payment of this goodwill compensation is fair, in view of all circumstances, in particular of the lost commission from the contracts with these customers.
– 2. The amount of the goodwill compensation cannot exceed the commission and possible remuneration of one year, calculated to the average over the last five years of the commercial agency agreement or, if the agreement has lasted shorter, to the average of the whole duration of it.
– 3. The right to goodwill compensation ceases to exist if the agent has not notified the principal within one year after the end of the commercial agency agreement that he claims this compensation.
– 4. The goodwill compensation is not due (indebted) if the agreement has been ended:
a. by the principal under circumstances which make the agent liable pursuant to Article 7:439, paragraph 3;
b. by the agent, unless this termination is justified by circumstances which can be attributed to the principal or is justified by the age, invalidity or sickness of the agent on the basis of which he reasonably cannot be expected to continue his activities;
c. by the agent who has transferred, with approval of the principal, his contractual position under the commercial agency agreement to a third party.

Protection Against Unlawful Termination under Dutch law

You have protection against unlawful termination under the Dutch Agency Law in the Netherlands. This means that as a commercial agent, you’re safeguarded against being terminated without just cause or proper notice. The Dutch Agency Law provides specific provisions to protect your rights in the event of termination. Here are three important points to note:

  • Termination for cause: The law allows termination in situations where there are compelling reasons, such as a breach of contract or failure to fulfill obligations. However, the termination must be justified and in accordance with the terms of the contract.
  • Notice requirements: Proper notice must be given before termination, as specified in the contract or by the Dutch Agency Law. Failure to provide sufficient notice may result in claims for damages.
  • Compensation: If you’re unlawfully terminated, you may be entitled to compensation for lost profits and incurred costs, depending on the circumstances of your case.

Post-Termination Restrictions

After termination, commercial agency agreements in the Netherlands may include post-termination restrictions. These restrictions, such as non-compete clauses and non-solicitation clauses, aim to limit the activities of the agent after the termination of the agency. The duration and terms of these restrictions must be clearly outlined in the agreement to avoid any ambiguity. Violating these post-termination restrictions can result in legal issues and potential claims for damages. Therefore, it’s crucial to comply with these restrictions to prevent disputes and legal complications. When negotiating and drafting the commercial agency agreement, both the principal and the agent should carefully consider the necessity and reasonableness of these post-termination restrictions. By doing so, they can protect their interests and ensure a smooth termination of the agency.

Dutch Commercial Agency Contract Lawyer

Looking for legal assistance with your commercial agency contract in the Netherlands? A commercial agency contract lawyer can provide you with the expertise and guidance you need to navigate the complexities of Dutch law. Here are three reasons why consulting a lawyer is crucial in commercial agency disputes in the Netherlands:

  • Expertise in Dutch Agency Law: A commercial agency contract lawyer is well-versed in the specific provisions and regulations of the Dutch Agency Law. They can help you understand your rights and obligations under the law, ensuring that your contract is in compliance and protecting your interests.
  • Clause Effectiveness: A lawyer can review your agency agreement and ensure that all clauses, such as non-compete clauses, commission, termination, and indemnity, are effective and legally sound. This can help prevent disputes and legal complications in the future.
  • Dispute Resolution: In the event of a commercial agency dispute, a lawyer can provide guidance on the best course of action. They can represent your interests and negotiate on your behalf to reach a favorable resolution, whether through mediation, arbitration, or litigation.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is an Agency Agreement in the Dutch Law?

An agency agreement in Dutch law is a contract between a principal and an agent, granting the agent authority to act on behalf of the principal. It requires a written agreement, imposes obligations on both parties, and regulates remuneration, commission, liability, and termination.

What Is the Contract Law in the Netherlands?

The contract law in the Netherlands is governed by the Dutch Civil Code. It applies to various types of contracts, including agency contracts. These contracts should include provisions on duration, rights, obligations, and payment terms.


In conclusion, understanding the regulations outlined in the Dutch Agency Law is crucial for navigating a commercial agency dispute in the Netherlands. From termination requirements to indemnification rights, this law provides the necessary framework for resolving conflicts between commercial agents and principals. By familiarizing yourself with the provisions and seeking legal guidance if needed, you can ensure a successful resolution. So, why wait? Take the necessary steps to protect your rights and interests today.

Commercial agency law firm in the Netherlands

If you have any questions or require legal assistance, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our knowledgeable and dedicated team at MAAK Attorneys, our specialized Dutch law firm. Our Dutch lawyers are committed to providing exceptional legal services and personalized attention to address your unique needs. You can contact us through our website, via email, or by phone. Our friendly and professional staff will be more than happy to assist you and schedule a consultation with one of our expert attorneys in the Netherlands, such as a Dutch litigation attorney or contract lawyer in Amsterdam. We look forward to the opportunity to help you navigate the complexities of the legal landscape and achieve the best possible outcomes for your case.

Contact person: Remko Roosjen
+31 (0)20 – 210 31 38 |

Please note that the content provided on this legal blog is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice or a substitute for professional legal counsel. While we strive to ensure the accuracy and timeliness of the information presented, we cannot guarantee its completeness or applicability to your specific circumstances. We encourage you to consult with a qualified attorney for advice regarding your legal matters. The content on this blog may be subject to changes or updates without notice, and we disclaim any responsibility for any errors or omissions in the information provided.

Remko Roosjen

Remko Roosjen

Remko Roosjen is a Dutch commercial agency attorney and creates close working relationships with clients, providing pragmatic solutions across on all legal matters in the Netherlands. Remko is a co-founder of our Dutch Law Firm in Amsterdam. His specialist areas include (international) commercial agency disputes under Dutch law & Dutch commercial agency contracts, including civil litigation about the termination of the Dutch contract, arbitration and mediation. Remko is a sharp, creative attorney with extensive experience representing both plaintiffs and defendants. Visit Remko's profile via the website or via his LinkedIn Profile.