Skip to content

Choice of law in the Netherlands

Choice of law in the Netherlands

Choice of law in private international law means that parties with an international legal relationship are free to choose the law applicable to their contract or legal relationship. This choice must be made expressly or otherwise sufficiently clear, whereby an assumed choice of law, based on mere assumption, is not admissible. The choice of law must satisfy the formal requirements of the chosen law or the law of the country in which the choice was made. The substantive validity of the choice of law is determined by the legal system chosen, but may be limited by mandatory provisions of the law of a country where all connecting factors are located, or by mandatory European law. The choice of law has gradually been accepted in various areas of law, such as contract law, tort law, divorce, matrimonial property law and inheritance law. Where no choice of law has been made, the applicable law must be determined on the basis of objective conflict rules.


Choice of law in private international law means that parties to an international contract can determine for themselves which law applies to their contract. This is an important concept in cross-border transactions and contracts.

Some key points about choice of law:

  1. Parties can explicitly or implicitly agree which national law will govern their contract.
  2. If no choice of law is made, in the event of a dispute, the rules of private international law will be relied upon to determine the applicable law.
  3. Choice of law offers parties legal certainty and predictability, as they know which legal system will apply.
  4. In the European Union, choice of law for international contracts is governed by the Rome I Regulation.
  5. There are limits to choice of law. For example, in some cases, mandatory provisions of another legal system may still apply despite a choice of law to the contrary.
  6. When making a choice of law, factors such as language, accessibility and content of the chosen law play a role.
  7. It is inadvisable not to make a choice of law, as this can lead to ambiguity and possible disputes about which law is applicable.


Choice of law is thus an important tool in private international law that allows parties to decide for themselves which legal system will govern their contract, contributing to legal certainty in international transactions.
Choice of law has a significant impact on the interpretation of a contract in private international law. Here are some key ways in which choice of law affects contract interpretation:

  1. Applicable legal system: The choice of law determines which national legal system applies to the contract. This means that the rules, principles and case law of the chosen legal system guide the interpretation of contractual provisions.
  2. Mandatory provisions: The chosen law may contain mandatory provisions from which the parties may not derogate. These provisions can affect the interpretation and performance of the contract, even if they are not explicitly included in the contract.
  3. Methods of interpretation: Different legal systems may use different methods for interpreting contracts. The choice of law determines which methods of interpretation are applied, which can lead to different interpretations of the same contractual provisions.
  4. Language and accessibility: The choice of legal system may affect the language in which the contract is drafted and interpreted. This may affect the accessibility and understanding of the contractual provisions by the parties involved.
  5. Legal certainty: A clear choice of law offers parties greater legal certainty, as they know which law applies and how the contract will be interpreted in case of a dispute.
  6. Impact on dispute resolution: The choice of law can also affect how any disputes are resolved, as the chosen court or arbitrator will interpret the contract according to the chosen law.
  7. Party autonomy: The Rome I Regulation places party autonomy at its core, meaning that parties are in principle free to choose any legal system. This allows parties to choose a legal system that best suits their needs and expectations.

It is important to note that making an informed choice of law is crucial for the interpretation and performance of international contracts. Failure to make a choice of law can lead to ambiguity and potential disputes about which law applies, which can complicate the interpretation of the contract.

Contact our Dutch attorneys

For any legal inquiries or support in the Netherlands about the choice of law, please feel free to contact our adept team at MAAK Advocaten. Committed to excellence, our Dutch lawyers provide superior legal services tailored to your distinct needs. You can reach our law firm in the Netherlands through our website, by email, or phone.

Our approachable and skilled staff at MAAK Attorneys will be delighted to assist you, arranging a meeting with one of our specialized attorneys in the Netherlands. Whether you need a Dutch litigation attorney or a Dutch contract lawyer in Amsterdam, we are eager to guide you through the legal intricacies and secure the most favorable results for your situation.

Contact details

Remko Roosjen | attorney-at-law (‘advocaat’)
+31 (0)20 – 210 31 38

The information on this legal blog serves purely for educational purposes and should not be taken as specific legal guidance. While we endeavor to maintain accurate and current information, we do not assert its absolute completeness or relevance to your particular situation. For advice tailored to your legal concerns, we urge you to engage with a licensed attorney. Please note that the blog’s content may change without notice, and we are not liable for any inaccuracies or missing information.

Remko Roosjen

Remko Roosjen

Remko Roosjen is a Dutch contract attorney in the Netherlands and creates close working relationships with clients, providing pragmatic solutions across on all legal matters in the Netherlands. Remko is a partner of our commercial law firm in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. His specialist areas include Dutch contract law, including Dutch commercial contracting and legal disputes, including civil litigation, arbitration and mediation. Remko is a sharp, creative Dutch attorney with extensive cross-border experience representing both foreign plaintiffs and defendants. Visit Remko's profile via the website or via his LinkedIn Profile.