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International arbitration in the Netherlands

International arbitration in the Netherlands

The Netherlands is a prominent hub for international arbitration, offering a supportive legal framework, experienced professionals, and a strategic location. The rules and procedures for international arbitration in the Netherlands are set out in Book 4 of the Civil Procedure Code, with the modernisation of the Arbitration Act in 2015 bringing it into line with national and international developments in the field of arbitration and the UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration. The first title of Book 4 of the Book of Arbitration (articles 1020-1073 of the Book of Arbitration) regulates arbitration when the place of arbitration is in the Netherlands, including international arbitration.

These rules include provisions on the arbitration agreement, the composition and appointment of the arbitral tribunal, the procedure for conducting the arbitration and the appeals against the arbitral award. Art. 1052(5) Rv provides that if the arbitral tribunal declines jurisdiction due to the absence of a valid arbitration agreement, the ordinary court shall have jurisdiction to hear the case. The formal validity of the arbitration agreement is governed by Art. 1020 et seq. of the LC and, in the case of international arbitration, by the New York Convention. In addition, Article 1022c of the Civil Code provides that in summary proceedings or proceedings for the taking of evidence, the court shall declare itself competent only if the measure sought cannot be obtained in arbitration or cannot be obtained in time.

What is the Current Framework for International Arbitration in the Netherlands?

The Dutch Code of Civil Procedure (DCCP) forms the current framework for arbitral proceedings. Since 1986, these rules are located in the Fourth Book of the DCCP, known as the Arbitration Act. This Act drew inspiration from foreign arbitration acts, particularly those of France and Switzerland, and the UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration. In 2015, the Arbitration Act underwent significant amendments to promote alternative dispute resolution, improve arbitration efficiency, remove impediments, clarify provisions, reduce court roles in arbitration, and increase party autonomy. These changes aimed to enhance the Netherlands’ position as a venue for international arbitration.

Arbitration Institutions in the Netherlands

Several reputable arbitration institutions operate in the Netherlands, including:

  • Netherlands Arbitration Institute (NAI): The leading organization for commercial dispute resolution.
  • Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA): An international organization based in The Hague, specializing in arbitration and other forms of dispute resolution between states.
  • P.R.I.M.E. Finance Foundation: Focuses on resolving disputes in the financial sector.
  • International Chamber of Commerce (ICC): Has a strong presence in the Netherlands, handling a variety of international arbitration cases.
  • Netherlands Commercial Court (NCC): this court recently adopted arbitration, and is well known for international commercial cases between parties from different countries.

Key Features and Benefits

  • Neutral Venue: The Netherlands provides a neutral and stable environment for arbitration, which is particularly appealing for international parties.
  • Qualified Personnel: The country hosts many international courts and tribunals, ensuring access to highly qualified arbitrators and legal professionals.
  • Cost-Effective: Arbitration in the Netherlands is often more cost-effective compared to other major arbitration centers like Paris or London.
  • Language Flexibility: Proceedings can be conducted in English, which is advantageous for international parties.

What are the main advantages of choosing the Netherlands as the seat of arbitration?

Based on the search results, there are several key advantages to choosing the Netherlands as the seat of arbitration:

  1. Supportive Legal Framework: The Netherlands has a pro-arbitration legal climate with minimal court interference, aimed primarily at facilitating the arbitration process. The Dutch Arbitration Act, updated in 2015, enhances efficiency and flexibility in arbitration proceedings.
  2. Experienced Institutions: The Netherlands hosts several reputable arbitration institutions, including the Netherlands Arbitration Institute (NAI), the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA), and others. This provides access to experienced administrators and arbitrators.
  3. Neutral Venue: As the home of many international courts and tribunals, the Netherlands offers a neutral and stable environment for arbitration, which is particularly appealing for international parties.
  4. Cost-Effectiveness: Arbitration in the Netherlands is often more cost-effective compared to other major arbitration centers like Paris or London.
  5. Language Flexibility: Proceedings can be conducted in English, which is advantageous for international parties.
  6. Efficiency: Dutch arbitration is generally considered more efficient than civil court proceedings.
  7. Confidentiality: Arbitration proceedings in the Netherlands are generally confidential, which can be important for sensitive commercial disputes[4].
  8. Enforceability: The Netherlands is a signatory to the New York Convention, making arbitral awards rendered in the Netherlands enforceable in many countries.
  9. Expertise: The Netherlands has highly qualified personnel to administer and conduct arbitral proceedings, given its history of hosting international courts and tribunals.
  10. Modern Infrastructure: The country offers great infrastructure to host arbitration proceedings.
  11. Flexibility: The Dutch Arbitration Act grants more autonomy to parties in conducting arbitration proceedings, making them more flexible.
  12. E-Arbitration Framework: The Netherlands Arbitration Act provides for an e-arbitration framework, facilitating quicker and more efficient communication during arbitral proceedings.

These advantages make the Netherlands an attractive choice for international parties seeking a reliable, efficient, and cost-effective seat for their arbitration proceedings.

Model Arbitration Clause in the Netherlands

A typical arbitration clause for agreements involving the Netherlands might state:

“All disputes arising in connection with the present agreement, or further agreements resulting therefrom, shall be settled in accordance with the Arbitration Rules of the Netherlands Arbitration Institute (NAI). The place of arbitration shall be Amsterdam (the Netherlands). The proceedings shall be conducted in English. Any court proceedings in the Netherlands before, during, or after the arbitration will – to the extent allowed by law – exclusively be dealt with by the Amsterdam District Court or the Amsterdam Court of Appeal, following proceedings in English before the Chambers for International Commercial Matters (Netherlands Commercial Court)”

How Does the Arbitration Act Handle Domestic and International Arbitration?

The Arbitration Act does not distinguish between domestic and international arbitration in the Netherlands. Title 1 of Book 4 of the DCCP (Articles 1020–1073) applies to all arbitration proceedings seated in the Netherlands. It covers topics like the arbitration agreement, the lack of court jurisdiction over arbitration issues, the authority and appointment of arbitrators, challenging arbitrators, provisional measures, enforcement orders, and setting aside and revoking arbitral awards. Title 2 (Articles 1074–1076 DCCP) deals with arbitration proceedings seated abroad, focusing on the jurisdiction of Dutch courts for agreements applying arbitration abroad and enforcing foreign arbitral awards in the Netherlands.

How Do Dutch Courts Support Dutch Arbitration Proceedings?

The Netherlands does not have specialist courts for arbitration matters. However, the Arbitration Act provides for court assistance to remove obstacles to arbitration. This assistance, requested jointly or by one party, can involve fixing the number of arbitrators, appointing arbitrators, discharging arbitrators or tribunals, organizing witness interrogations, and consolidating multiple arbitration proceedings in Holland. These provisions help facilitate the smooth conduct of arbitration in the Netherlands.

What Arbitration Institutes Are Based in the Netherlands?

The Netherlands hosts various arbitration institutes, each with its own rules. The Netherlands Arbitration Institute (NAI) is the largest and will celebrate its 75th anniversary in 2024. Other notable institutes include the Arbitration Board for the Building Industry, the Netherlands Association for the Trade in Dried Fruits, Spices, and Allied Products, the Royal Dutch Grain and Feed Trade Association, and UNUM Arbitration & Mediation. Additionally, the Permanent Court of Arbitration provides administrative support in international arbitration proceedings. In 2019, the Technology Arbitration and Mediation Institute was founded, and the Hague Rules on Business and Human Rights Arbitration were launched, further solidifying the Netherlands as a hub for specialized arbitration.

What Is the Future of International Arbitration in the Netherlands?

Although the number of arbitration proceedings has been relatively steady over the past decade, the financial stakes have increased significantly. The NAI reported a caseload worth €4 billion in 2023, nearly double the previous year. The positive attitude of Dutch courts towards arbitration and the comprehensive Dutch Arbitration Act make the Netherlands an attractive venue for international arbitration. This trend indicates potential growth in the number of arbitration proceedings conducted in the Netherlands in the future.

International arbitration lawyers in Amsterdam

The Netherlands is a highly favorable jurisdiction for international arbitration due to its supportive legal framework, experienced professionals, and cost-effectiveness. Its institutions, such as the NAI and NCC, provide robust mechanisms for resolving international disputes efficiently and fairly.

For any legal inquiries or support in the Netherlands, 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.