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Limitation period in the Netherlands

The law states that a creditor cannot wait indefinitely before making a claim. After some time, a claim becomes time-barred, and a creditor is too late. At the end of last year, the Supreme Court in a ruling on prescription in the case of the professional liability of a fiscal consultant clarified when the limitation period in the Netherlands starts and until what time the creditor has to take action. Our attorneys in the Netherlands discuss the periods of limitation in this blog.

Statute of limitations under Dutch law

Limitation is an important issue in Dutch law. If a claim does not expire, you may end up with nothing. Precisely for this reason, you would be wise to contact a lawyer experienced in the topic of prescription and civil litigation in the Netherlands in good time. That way, you will prevent your claim from being time-barred and no longer be able to claim what you are owed. Statutes of limitation under Dutch law can be complex and multiple time limits may be relevant to your particular situation.

Long and short limitation periods under Dutch law

According to Article 3:306 of the Dutch Civil Code, a legal claim expires after twenty years, unless the law provides otherwise. In fact, the law provides somewhat differently for all sorts of categories of legal claims, including legal claims for:

Art. 3:306 DCC is thus a general rule with many exceptions. Among the exceptions, a short limitation period of five (5) years usually applies, starting from the time when the creditor becomes aware of the claim and the debtor.


The consequences of prescription are far-reaching and irreversible. After a claim has become time-barred, it is no longer possible for a creditor to claim performance from the court. If the judge accedes to the claim, he will not be able to judge the content of the case. The judge will also not arbitrate whether it is fair or reasonable that the debtor does not have to comply or pay. In this situation, the judge will reject the claim and order the creditor to pay the costs of the proceedings.


In order to know when you have time to take action, you need to know when the limitation period in the Netherlands starts and which period applies. The law makes a distinction between different situations. In practice, the (short) limitation periods of five years for a claim for performance under a contract and a claim for compensation for damages are of particular importance. The limitation period for a claim for performance starts on the day after the claim has become due and payable. This is usually the due date of an invoice.

In the case of a claim for compensation of damage, the moment that the creditor becomes aware of both the damage and the person liable is decisive for setting the commencement of the limitation period in the Netherlands. This was the purpose of the aforementioned judgment of the Supreme Court, in which it was determined that the creditor’s awareness only exists when the creditor has had the opportunity to assess the soundness of the delivered performance. Therefore, the prescription of the claim in this case on the tax consultant only started when the creditor became aware that mistakes had been made in the advice.


It is not always necessary to go to court directly to prevent the prescription of a claim under Dutch law. An acknowledgment from the debtor, a clear warning, or notification that the rights to performance are reserved will interrupt the limitation period and start a new period (in Dutch: “stuiting“). This period is usually as long as the original limitation period and therefore gives time to properly substantiate the claim, write to the debtor and, if necessary, present a well-prepared claim to the court.

Absolute limitation period in the Netherlands

Incidentally, not all limitation periods can be interrupted. For most claims arising from contracts or for compensation of damages there is an absolute limitation period of twenty years. This period commences on the day after the claim arose or the damage was caused and makes the limitation period of a claim a fait accompli.

Dutch Lawyer in the Netherlands specializing in limitation periods

If you have any questions or require legal assistance regarding the statute of limitations under Dutch law, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our knowledgeable and dedicated team at our Dutch law firm.  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 lawyers in the Netherlands, for example a Dutch litigation solicitor 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 | attorney-at-law
Office number: +31 (0)20 – 210 31 38

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 litigation lawyer in the Netherlands and creates close working relationships with clients, providing pragmatic solutions across on all legal matters in the Netherlands, including Dutch legal proceedings. Remko is a co-founder of our Dutch Law Firm in Amsterdam. As a litigation attorney in the Netherlands, his specialist areas include (international) Commercial Disputes & Contracts, including Dutch civil litigation, arbitration under Dutch law and mediation. Furthermore, Remko is a specialist lawyer for pre-judgment attachments in the Netherlands, conducting summary proceedings before the Dutch courts, and filing claims in the Netherlands. Remko is a sharp, creative Dutch attorney with extensive experience representing both plaintiffs and defendants in Dutch litigation. Visit Remko's profile via the website or via his LinkedIn Profile.