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Arbitration in the Netherlands

ARBITRATION under Dutch law

Our Dutch litigation lawyers in the Netherlands are specialized in arbitration. Arbitration in the Netherlands is a method of dispute resolution whereby an impartial arbitrator or several arbitrators give a binding ruling in a dispute between the parties. Arbitration under Dutch law is a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR), which means that it is an alternative to proceedings before the civil courts. In some sectors, arbitration is more common than in others. For example, the Arbitration board for the building industry (Raad van Arbitrage voor de Bouw) is a well-known arbitration board in the Netherlands. Yet, arbitration in is becoming increasingly popular in other sectors too. Parties have to agree to resolve their dispute by way of arbitration instead of bringing proceedings before a civil court. In that respect, it must be noted that the applicability of arbitration is usually regulated in general terms and conditions.


Arbitration is a good alternative to civil court proceedings. One advantage of arbitration, for example, is that an arbitral award is often better enforceable in non-European countries than judgments of civil courts. This has to do with the New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards of 1958. Another advantage is that arbitration is confidential and therefore that, unlike civil judgments, arbitral awards are not published. Furthermore, the parties can appoint an arbitrator, which makes the method of settling disputes more balanced than choosing a district court in which one of the parties is sitting.


As arbitration is a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR), the applicable procedural rules are – to a certain extent – different from the procedural rules that apply to civil procedure. The experienced Dutch lawyers of our law firm are specialized in arbitration. When a commercial agreement is concluded, we also advise on the question whether, in the legal relationship at hand, arbitration is a suitable form of dispute resolution and should whether it should be preferred above civil proceedings. The answer to that question depends, amongst other things, on the background and character of the parties involved. Let us give you the following example. Imagine that a dispute arises in the context of an international agreement between a Dutch merchant and a Chinese manufacturer. Assume that Dutch law applies to the agreement and that, in principle, a Dutch civil court has jurisdiction. The Dutch merchant wants to claim performance of the agreement or compensation for damages due to non-compliance of the Chinese manufacturer. In such a case, arbitration may be the preferred form of dispute resolution, since a Dutch judgment has a (very) limited effect in China, whereas the arbitral award is recognized and can therefore more easily be enforced. Our lawyers will be happy to support you as regards questions about the suitability or even preference of arbitration as the form of dispute resolution in your specific case. Our Dutch lawyers specialized in arbitration in the Netherlands have an excellent knowledge of Dutch civil law including law of civil procedure and are highly experienced in drafting of commercial contracts including arbitration clauses.


First of all, it must be observed that arbitration clauses in agreements, do not rule out the option for parties to still initiate civil proceedings. When a dispute has escalated, our team of lawyers map out which forum is most competent and preferable to rule on what divides the parties. This means that, depending on the nature and subject of the dispute, we advise to either bring the case before the competent civil court, or to bring the case before the competent arbitration body.

Raad van Arbitrage voor de Bouw | Arbitration board fo the building industry

The Arbitration board for the building industry (Raad van Arbitrage voor de Bouw) is a well-known arbitration institute in the Netherlands. The applicability of the Raad van Arbitrage voor de Bouw is usually laid down in a contractual agreement. The Raad van Arbitrage voor de Bouw has its own arbitration rules and regulations, which equally apply to each case. In arbitration cases before the Raad van Arbitrage voor de Bouw parties can be represented by an arbitration lawyer; this is, however, not compulsory.


The Netherlands Arbitration Institute (Nederlands Arbitrage Instituut, NAI), based in Rotterdam, is another well-known and independent arbitration institute in the Netherlands. It carries out binding advisory procedures and mediations. When parties want to bring an arbitration proceeding before the NAI, their application is not subject to a certain form (like a writ of summons is); the only thing required in relation to the request for starting an arbitration proceeding before the NAI, is to enclose the arbitration agreement signed by both parties.

Once the request of the plaintiff has been received by the Netherlands Arbitration Institute, it will send the request for arbitration by email to the defendant, who subsequently may respond briefly. After the arbitrator(s) have been appointed, the plaintiff and the defendant shall be given the opportunity to provide a statement of claim and a statement of reply, respectively. A further round of written submissions may be required. Subsequently, an oral hearing is held. Hence, the structure of proceedings before the NAI to some extent resembles a civil procedure before a civil court.


Summary arbitral summary proceedings in the Netherlands are very similar to proceedings for interim measures (or interim relief proceedings)(in Dutch: “kort geding“) before a civil court. Arbitral summary proceedings are instituted when there is an urgent need for interim relief, and require the arbitrators to render a decision within a short period of time.


MAAK Advocaten has a strong national and international focus on arbitration. Our law firm has experienced arbitration lawyers in Amsterdam knows how to initiate and how to follow an arbitral procedure. Our lawyers have been following procedures at, for example, the Arbitration board for the building industry (Raad van Arbitrage voor de Bouw), the Netherlands Arbitration Institute, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and UNCITRAL. Because of our specialist knowledge, we can quickly and efficiently set the course for starting arbitration proceedings.

Thanks to our extensive expertise in both national and international arbitration proceedings, we can assist our clients in diverse arbitration proceedings and branches of industry. Our approach is pragmatic and effective. Common arbitration proceedings are, for example, arbitral summary proceedings on the termination of a long-term contract, such as a distribution contract. In addition, also disputes about construction projects and the purchase and sale of products can suitable for arbitration.


Not every court has the competence annul or revoke an arbitral award. Only a court in the country where the arbitration took place has jurisdiction to do so. To such proceedings for annulment or revocation, the law of that country is the applicable law – hence, in the Netherlands the Dutch Civil Code and the Code of Civil Procedure apply to such proceedings.

According to that code, the competent court can annul or revoke an arbitral award upon request of one of the parties. The request for annulment must be brought by one of the parties within a period of three months after the arbitral award has been rendered.


Our team of Dutch arbitration lawyers in the Netherlands (Amsterdam) have a strong reputation in (international and domestic) arbitration. Would you like to obtain advice on initiating an arbitration procedure, the annulment or enforcement of an arbitral award, or would you like to know more about the best arbitration clause? Please contact Remko Roosjen or one of our other Dutch lawyers in Amsterdam.

T:  +31 (0)20 – 210 31 38
Contact: Remko Roosjen | Dutch arbitration lawyer