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Debt collection in the Netherlands

Debt collection law firm in the Netherlands
By: Remko Roosjen | Dutch debt collection attorney
+31 (0)20 – 210 31 38
remko.roosjen@maakadvocaten.nl

Debt collection refers to the process of pursuing due payments owed by individuals or businesses. In the Netherlands, this is a process that can take place with the help of an agency or a lawyer who can help the client go through the judicial collection phase if the case requires this stage.

Debt collection in the Netherlands is legally structured to balance creditors’ and debtors’ rights, ensuring a fair and efficient process. Creditors typically start with a payment reminder or Dutch demand letter. If unpaid, they can hire a debt collection agency or a Dutch lawyer, adhering to strict regulations against harassment. In case of non-resolution, legal action, including Dutch court judgments or liens, may be taken. Awareness of rights and obligations is essential for a smooth debt resolution.

Initiating the Dutch Debt Collection Process

One of MAAK’s practice areas is debt collection in the Netherlands. You may be confronted by different customs and trading traditions when doing business with a Dutch partner. Due to differences in legislation in the Netherlands and language and cultural barriers, debt collection in the Netherlands can be more difficult for you than expected. Our litigation attorneys in the Netherlands explain the key issues.

Initiating the debt collection process in the Netherlands is a structured procedure aimed at recovering unpaid debts. The process typically begins with sending a written reminder to the debtor, outlining the debt, and requesting payment. If this initial step fails, the creditor may proceed to engage a debt collection agency or a lawyer specializing in debt collection. These professionals can employ various strategies, from sending formal demand letters to initiating legal action. Dutch law stipulates specific regulations and limits regarding debt collection practices, emphasizing the importance of respecting the debtor’s rights while seeking payment. Creditors must understand these legal frameworks to ensure an effective and compliant collection process.

Investigation and Credit Assessment for Dutch Debt Collection

In Dutch debt collection, investigation and credit assessment are critical steps. Initially, creditors conduct a thorough investigation to understand the debtor’s financial situation. This includes assessing the debtor’s credit history, current financial status, and ability to pay. The credit assessment helps in determining the most effective collection strategy, tailored to the debtor’s specific circumstances. By carefully evaluating the debtor’s financial health, creditors can make informed decisions, such as whether to proceed with legal action or negotiate payment terms. This approach not only increases the likelihood of successful debt recovery but also ensures that the collection process remains fair and respectful of the debtor’s situation.

Drafting and Sending a Dutch Demand Letter

Drafting and sending a demand letter in the Dutch debt collection process is a crucial initial step. This letter serves as a formal request for payment, outlining the outstanding debt, the original agreement terms, and a specified deadline for payment. In the Netherlands, the letter must be clear, concise, and legally compliant, often including a detailed breakdown of the debt and any accrued interest or fees. It should also inform the debtor of potential legal actions if the debt remains unpaid. The tone of the letter is usually firm yet respectful, maintaining a professional approach. Sending this demand letter not only fulfills a legal requirement but also provides the debtor with a fair opportunity to settle the debt amicably before any further legal steps are taken.

Collaborative Approach and Case Tracking for collecting a debt

In the Netherlands, a collaborative approach and case tracking are integral parts of the Dutch debt collection process. This approach emphasizes cooperation between the creditor, debt collection agency, and debtor, aiming to find a mutually beneficial solution. Effective communication and negotiation play key roles, with all parties encouraged to openly discuss payment options and potential difficulties. Meanwhile, case tracking is employed to meticulously monitor the progress of each Dutch debt collection case. This involves updating records, tracking communications and payments, and ensuring compliance with legal guidelines. By combining collaboration with diligent case tracking, the Dutch debt collection system strives to achieve efficient resolutions while maintaining fairness and respect for all involved parties.

The Role of Bailiffs and Lawyers in the Netherlands

In Dutch debt collection, bailiffs and lawyers play pivotal roles. Bailiffs, known as ‘deurwaarders’ in the Netherlands, are judicial officers authorized to execute court orders, including the seizure of assets and property to recover debts. They act as intermediaries, ensuring that the debtor complies with the court’s decision while respecting legal protocols and debtor’s rights. Lawyers, on the other hand, provide legal expertise and representation. They are instrumental in drafting legally sound demand letters, negotiating repayment plans, and representing creditors in court if necessary. Their involvement is crucial for navigating complex legal proceedings and ensuring that the creditor’s actions are compliant with Dutch law. Together, bailiffs and lawyers ensure that the debt collection process is conducted effectively, legally, and ethically.

Dutch Debt Collection Laws

Dutch debt collection laws establish a framework that balances the interests of creditors and debtors, ensuring fair and ethical debt recovery practices. These laws dictate specific procedures for debt collection, starting from sending a formal demand letter to the debtor, outlining the debt, and a reasonable period for repayment. If this fails, creditors may proceed with legal action but must adhere to regulations that prohibit practices like harassment or unreasonable pressure. The laws also define the roles and limitations of debt collection agencies and bailiffs, ensuring they operate within legal boundaries. In court proceedings, Dutch law provides clear guidelines on how judgments are to be executed. Importantly, these laws offer protections to debtors, including rights to dispute the debt and provisions to prevent excessive financial burden. This legal framework is designed to ensure that debt collection in the Netherlands is conducted respectfully, responsibly, and under the principles of justice.

Bankruptcy Petition in the Netherlands as a Debt Collection Strategy

In the Netherlands, filing a Dutch bankruptcy petition can be a strategic move in the debt collection process, particularly in cases of substantial unpaid debts. This strategy is often considered when other collection efforts, like demand letters and negotiations, have failed. By filing a bankruptcy petition against a debtor, creditors can initiate a legal process that may result in the debtor’s assets being liquidated under court supervision to pay off the debt. This action is not taken lightly, as bankruptcy can have significant and lasting effects on the debtor’s financial status and creditworthiness. It’s typically seen as a last resort, used when creditors believe there is no feasible alternative for debt recovery. Employing this strategy requires careful legal consideration and adherence to Dutch bankruptcy laws, ensuring that the creditor’s rights are protected while also respecting the legal process and the debtor’s situation.

summary Proceedings vs. ordinary proceedings

Our Dutch lawyers can initiate Dutch civil summary proceedings (in Dutch: “incassokortgeding”) to recover your unpaid invoice in the Netherlands, regardless of whether there are disputed or undisputed claims. The debtor is then sued. The court may then order the debtor pay the claim. These proceedings allow for evidence to be presented in many different ways. Please be advised that there’s a difference between the summary proceedings and proceedings on the merits in the Netherlands (in Dutch: “bodemprocedure”). Generally, the judge will usually try to reach an agreement between the parties in most cases. It also needs to be noted that this is usually a long process with simple civil procedures in the Netherlands taking anywhere from six to twelve months to complete. Complex cases may take up to two years and an appeal can then be filed by the debtor which may extend the case further.

Pre-judgment attachment in Holland

In the Netherlands, it has been quite easy for a creditor to attach the assets of his debtor even before a court has determined that there is a (due-and payable) claim. This is known as the pre-judgment Arrest of Assets in the Netherlands. Once the court grants the claim, the creditor may recover his claim from the attached asset.

Our Debt Recovery Process: A Meld of Expertise and Strategy

When you trust your claims to MAAK Advocaten, you’re essentially choosing the finest Holland collection attorney services for debt recovery and investigation in Holland. Our structured approach combines legal knowledge with Dutch financial claim attorney expertise:

  1. Summons Issuance: This initial notification, backed by Dutch payment default legal help, grants the debtor one final chance to clear outstanding amounts.
  2. Accurate Interest and Cost Calculations: Relying on Netherlands commercial debt attorney expertise, we ascertain the exact interest and other costs due.
  3. Multiple Recovery Routes: If debts persist, our Dutch overdue payment solicitor guidance ensures you have a gamut of legal options at your disposal.

Compensation for collection fees

When it comes to debt collection in the Netherlands, you can demand compensation for collection costs if the debtor fails to pay the invoice within 30 days of receiving the reminder. You may also charge interest for late payments, this In accordance with Article 6:119a of the Dutch Civil Code. The statutory interest rate referenced in Article 6:119 is set by a Royal Decree. If the statutory interest was already accruing when a new rate was enacted by the Royal Decree, the interest will be adjusted to reflect the updated rate from that point onwards. If the debtor fails to pay the invoice on their own, you may be charged the collection costs.

The maximum fee for consumers in the Netherlands is a percentage of the invoiced amount, as per law. An agreement can allow you to deviate from the above if the debtor is a business.

Debt collection attorney in the Netherlands

Do you need a debt collection lawyer in Holland? Our team of debt collection attorneys in the Netherlands would be happy to be of assistance. Our team of specialized debt collection attorneys in the Netherlands has the experience that you require. We provide fast solutions and a pragmatic approach. We are responsive and dedicated to being successful for you or your company. A debt collection attorney in the Netherlands will first investigate if the debtor in the Netherlands still exists or has enough assets for execution purposes. Our team of attorneys for debt collection in the Netherlands can furthermore offer the following services:

  • civil litigation in the Netherlands
  • form general terms and conditions
  • service agreements and business contracts
  • support and legal advice on Dutch law
  • assistance in the pre-legal phase with a letter of demand, pre-judgment attachments, petition for bankruptcy, legal proceedings in the Netherlands, including summary proceedings, interim relief proceedings, and civil court proceedings

How long does debt last in Netherlands?


The Netherlands has a limitation period 5 year for payment claims. This applies to all invoices that are due and payable. A summons is a demand for performance in the Netherlands. A bailiff can collect payment from a debtor if the debtor fails to pay the bill within the specified timeframe. Next, the process regarding debt collection in the Netherlands will be completed by filing a complaint against debtor. The Dutch law allows a debtor the right to sue for nonpayment.

Debt collection in the Netherlands

Summons to payment by a Dutch attorney

Under Dutch law, it is often necessary to send a proper summons to payment to the debtor. Also known as a notification in default. The summons gives the debtor one more chance to pay the invoice. If you have already sent a proper reminder for payment, collection costs and interest in Holland can be claimed immediately. The exact amount of statutory interest or statutory commercial interest due to you and your customer and any extrajudicial collection costs owed, will depend on the agreements in place. If you have not yet sent a proper reminder for payment, note that debt collection in the Netherlands often starts with a reminder followed by the summons to payment.

Get in Touch with Our Dutch debt collection law firm

If you have any questions or require legal assistance, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our knowledgeable and dedicated team at our Dutch debt collection law firm in the Netherlands (Amsterdam).  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, for example a Dutch litigation attorney or contract lawyer in the Netherlands 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 | Dutch debt collection attorney-at-law
Office number: +31 (0)20 – 210 31 38
remko.roosjen@maakadvocaten.nl

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 individual 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 debt collection 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 Dutch Debt Collection office in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. His specialist areas include Debt Recovery, Commercial Disputes & Contracts, including civil litigation, 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.