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Litigation and enforcement in the Netherlands

The Netherlands is a hub of commercial activities and hence disputes are bound to happen. It is essential to have an understanding of the key aspects of dispute resolution in the country to ensure that your rights are protected. This guide will give you a structured overview of the various aspects of litigation and enforcement in The Netherlands, including court procedures, fees and funding, interim remedies, disclosure, expert evidence, appeals, class actions, enforcement, cross-border issues, the use of ADR, and any reform proposals. Our litigation attorney in the Netherlands explains the most important aspects.

What are the Main Dispute Resolution Methods Used in The Netherlands?

The two main methods used to resolve large commercial disputes in the Netherlands are court litigation and arbitration. These methods are adversarial in nature and follow a set of regulations and laws. Court proceedings are regulated by the Dutch Code of Civil Procedure (DCCP) and court procedural rules, while arbitration is regulated by Book 4 of the DCCP and additional arbitration rules if agreed upon by the parties. Online dispute resolution is not available within the court system.

What are the Limitation Periods for Bringing a Claim in The Netherlands?

In the Netherlands, rights of action are limited to 20 years, unless otherwise specified by law. There are different limitation periods for different types of claims, such as contractual obligations, which have a limitation period of five years from the day the debt became due and payable, while a claim for tort has a limitation period of five years from the day the injured person became aware of the damages and the identity of the person liable, or 20 years from the day of the event that caused the damages.

Which Court Handles Large Commercial Disputes in The Netherlands?

There are 11 district courts in the Netherlands that hear cases at first instance. These courts each cover a geographical area and have a small claims division for claims under EUR 25,000. Claims over EUR 25,000 are heard in one of the 11 district courts. The departments of the courts are administrative law, commercial law, family law, criminal law, and immigration law. Certain courts have specialist chambers for specific types of cases, such as the Amsterdam Court of Appeal for company law, the Arnhem District Court for land lease cases, and the Rotterdam District Court for maritime law.


  1. Adversarial – A legal system in which two opposing parties argue their case before a neutral third party.
  2. Limitation period – The time within which a person must bring a legal action, after which they are barred from doing so.
  3. Statutory law – A type of law passed by a legislative body, such as a parliament or congress, as opposed to common law made by the judiciary.

Key Takeaways

The Netherlands has a robust legal system that provides a platform for resolving commercial disputes. The key aspects of dispute resolution in the country include court litigation and arbitration, limitation periods for bringing a claim, and the structure of the court system. It is essential to have a clear understanding of these aspects to ensure that your rights are protected in case of a dispute.

Frequently Asked Questions about litigation and enforcement in the Netherlands

Q: Is online dispute resolution available in the Netherlands court system?

A: No, online dispute resolution is not available within the court system in The Netherlands.

Q: What is the limitation period for contractual obligations in The Netherlands?

A: The limitation period for contractual obligations in The Netherlands is five years from the day the debt became due and payable.

Q: Are all types of cases heard by the district courts in The Netherlands?

A: Yes, all district courts in The Netherlands handle all types of cases, except for certain specialist areas.

How Does the Dutch Court System Handle Cases and Who Can Represent Litigants?

Do you want to know how the Dutch court system handles different types of cases and who can represent litigants in large commercial disputes? Look no further, as this article will provide you with all the information you need to know.

What are the Specialized Courts in the Dutch Court System?

The Dutch court system consists of several specialized courts for specific areas of law. Let’s take a closer look:

  • The Amsterdam Court of Appeal has a specialist chamber for company law that handles disputes related to companies.
  • The Arnhem District Court has a specialist chamber for land lease cases.
  • The Rotterdam District Court has a specialist chamber for maritime cases.
  • The Netherlands Enterprise Court at the Amsterdam Court of Appeal deals with enterprise law.
  • The Arnhem-Leeuwarden Court of Appeal has an agricultural tenancy division.
  • The Netherlands Commercial Court and The Netherlands Commercial Court of Appeal (Amsterdam) handle international commercial disputes in English.

What Happens When a Case Goes to Appeal in the Netherlands?

If a case is appealed, it will go to one of the four courts of appeal. No leave to appeal is required, and it’s common for larger commercial disputes to be appealed. The highest court in the Dutch court system is the Supreme Court of The Netherlands. This court only deals with matters of law, not facts.

Who Handles Cases at First Instance in the Dutch Court System?

In principle, a case at first instance will be handled by one judge and one clerk. However, if the case is complex, three judges and a clerk will handle it. On appeal, the case will be handled by three judges.

What are the rights of audience for Lawyers in the Dutch Court System?

The Netherlands does not distinguish between solicitors and barristers. A lawyer with the right of audience to conduct cases in court is known as an advocate (“advocaat”). An advocate handles all aspects of a case, from dealing directly with clients to conducting cases in court.

The Supreme Court of The Netherlands is the only court in the country where not all advocates have the right of audience. Only advocates from the Hague court district have the right of audience in the Supreme Court.

Can Litigants Represent Themselves in Dutch Courts?

Litigants are not obliged to be represented by an advocate in the small claims divisions of the district courts or in summary injunction proceedings. In these cases, litigants can represent themselves. However, in cases above the EUR 25,000 representation by a litigation attorney in the Netherlands is required.

What are the Requirements to Become an Advocate in the Netherlands?

To become an advocate in the Netherlands, a person must:

  • Achieve an LLM degree in Dutch law
  • Be admitted to the Dutch Law Society. To be admitted, a trainee advocate must find a patron, an advocate with at least seven years of experience, to train them for three years. During this time, the trainee advocate must also attend out-of-office training courses and pass exams.
Can Foreign Lawyers Represent Clients in Dutch Courts?

Under EU law, foreign European advocates can conduct cases in Dutch courts under specific circumstances. After fulfilling certain requirements, foreign European advocates can become members of the Dutch Bar Association.

In conclusion, the Dutch court system is comprised of several specialized courts for specific areas of law and has a clear system for appeals. Lawyers with the right of audience, known as advocates, can represent litigants in court. Litigants can also represent themselves in certain proceedings. To become an advocate in the Netherlands, a person must meet certain requirements, including obtaining an LLM degree and finding

Contact our litigation attorneys in the Netherlands

Feel free to contact our litigation attorney in the Netherlands, Remko Roosjen. Our law firm in Amsterdam would be happy to be of assistance.

+31 (0)20 – 210 31 38


Remko Roosjen

Remko is a commercial law 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 co-founder of our Dutch Law Firm in Amsterdam. His specialist areas include (international) 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.