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Freezing order in the Netherlands

In this blog post, our litigation attorney in the Netherlands in Amsterdam will explore the dynamics of a freezing order in the Netherlands. In Holland, there’s a legal practice known as a “freezing order” or “prejudgment attachment” (also referred to as “conservatory attachment” or “seizure”). This allows Dutch and foreign creditors to freeze assets of a debtor in the Netherlands (or anybody with assets in the Netherlands) before a court makes a determination on whether they must repay money owed. By freezing assets before this happens, debtors cannot sell off their possessions and make it difficult for creditors to get their money back if the court rules in their favor. To be eligible for a freezing order in the Netherlands, the creditor must demonstrate that the debtor owes them money and it is “immediately payable.” Essentially, they need to demonstrate that the debt is due and there’s a risk that the debtor will sell their belongings before court ruling.

How to apply for a freezing order in the Netherlands?

If a creditor wants to apply for a freezing order in the Netherlands, they must appear in court and provide evidence of both the debt and (occasionally) the potential risk that the debtor might sell their possessions. If the court approves, a “bailiff” (in Dutch: “deurwaarder”) (similar to a legal officer) will take possession of all of the debtor’s belongings (like bank accounts, property, and things they can move around) and keep them secure until such time as it is decided what should happen by the judge (“voorzieningenrechter”). It’s essential to remember that prejudgment attachments are temporary – the creditor still needs civil court proceedings in the Netherlands to obtain a final determination on the debt. If the court determines that there is no obligation for payment, the attachment will be lifted and all assets returned; however, if payment is required, these assets can then be used towards clearing up the outstanding amount. Please be advised that in the latter a possible liability for the freezing order might arise. Prejudgment attachment in the Netherlands can be a powerful tool for creditors, but it may have unfavorable effects on debtors. Therefore, both sides should consult a lawyer before taking any action.

Prejudgment attachments under Dutch law

Prejudgment attachments in the Netherlands are a legal mechanism used in The Netherlands to guarantee payment of debts. A court grants this type of security interest and it is placed on the debtor’s property, preventing its sale or transfer until the debt has been cleared. If a debtor fails to make payments on his debt, creditors have the right to seize and sell property in order to satisfy it. Freezing orders in the Netherlands are commonly used by businesses for this purpose; however, certain requirements must be fulfilled in order for court approval of such an attachment. The most essential requirement for filing a prejudgment attachment is that there must be an existing contract between the parties that sets forth their obligation to pay off debts. It’s wise to seek legal counsel prior to applying for this type of attachment. Other methods for securing payment include freezing orders, which prevent the debtor from selling or transferring any assets, and seizure on property assets – attaching all of a debtor’s possessions. Freezing orders in the Netherlands usually fall on the creditor, although in certain circumstances they may be recoverable from debtors if execution is successful.


Remko Roosjen

Remko creates close working relationships with clients, providing pragmatic solutions across on all legal matters. Remko is a co-founder of the Dutch Law Firm MAAK Advocaten NV. His specialist areas include commercial contract law and civil procedure, in particular his expertise covers commercial contracting, contract disputes, liability and litigation. Remko is a sharp, creative attorney with extensive experience representing both plaintiffs and defendants.