Skip to content

Top 4 Legal Remedies for Dutch Contract Breach

Top 4 Legal Remedies for Dutch Contract Breach

In the complex terrain of Dutch contract law, understanding the nuances and legal remedies available in the event of a contract breach is fundamental. This discourse will provide an analytical exploration of the top four legal remedies available in the Netherlands when a contract is violated. These remedies, which include damages, specific performance, rescission, and restitution, will be scrutinized from the lens of their applicability, effectiveness, and the peculiar circumstances under which they may be invoked.

By assessing these remedies within the context of detailed case studies, this dissection aims to offer a comprehensive understanding of how the Dutch legal system addresses contract breaches. As we proceed, you’ll uncover the intricate interplay between legal principles, court precedents, and their practical implications in the realm of contract law.

Understanding Dutch Contract Law

In order to comprehend the intricacies of legal remedies for contract breach in the Netherlands, it is imperative to first gain a thorough understanding of Dutch contract law. Dutch contract law, established under the Dutch Civil Code, encompasses a broad range of agreements, including those dealing with the sale of goods, services, and property, as well as employment contracts. Central to Dutch contract law is the concept of ‘good faith’ (goede trouw), which demands that parties to a contract act in a fair and reasonable manner towards each other. This tenet not only governs the formation of contracts but also their execution and any subsequent disputes.

Furthermore, Dutch contract law is characterised by freedom of contract, allowing parties to freely determine the terms of their agreement. However, this freedom is not absolute, and contracts that violate public order or morality, or that are unreasonably onerous to one party, can be nullified by the courts. The Dutch legal system also provides robust remedies for breach of contract, including specific performance, rescission, and damages. These remedies are designed to uphold the principle of pacta sunt servanda (agreements must be kept), ensuring the enforcement of contractual obligations.

Identifying Breach of Contract

How does one identify a breach of contract under Dutch law?

In essence, a breach, or ‘inbreuk’, occurs when one party fails to perform their obligations stipulated in the contract. It’s essential to understand that Dutch law mandates all contractual obligations to be performed in good faith. Any deviation from this principle could potentially be qualified as a breach.

Identification of a breach starts with a thorough analysis of the contractual agreement. Clauses outlining performance obligations, timelines, and quality standards form the basis for scrutiny. If these are not met, a breach is likely.

However, it’s not always that straightforward. Some contracts may contain ‘force majeure’ clauses exempting parties from liability under extraordinary circumstances. Others might have ‘cure periods’ allowing a defaulting party to rectify their breach within a specified timeframe. Thus, a comprehensive understanding of the contract’s terms and conditions is essential.

Furthermore, Dutch law also recognizes constructive breach, where a party’s actions indicate an intent not to fulfil their contractual obligations. This requires careful examination of the party’s behaviour beyond the contract’s explicit terms. Therefore, identifying a breach entails meticulous evaluation of both the contractual terms and the parties’ actions.

Several legal remedies exist under Dutch law for a breach of contract, each designed to rectify the situation and restore the injured party to the position they would have been in had the contract been fulfilled as initially agreed.

The first and most common remedy is damages, a monetary compensation awarded to the injured party for the loss suffered. Damages can either be compensatory, punitive, or nominal, depending on the circumstances of the breach.

Secondly, specific performance may be ordered by the court, compelling the breaching party to fulfill the obligations stipulated in the contract. Although not frequently granted, this remedy is particularly useful when monetary compensation cannot adequately rectify the breach.

Rescission, the third remedy, allows for the contract to be voided, thus returning both parties to their pre-contractual positions. This is often granted when a contract was entered into under duress, mistake, or misrepresentation.

Lastly, an injunction may be issued to prevent the breaching party from continuing their harmful actions. Injunctions are often used in cases where a breach could result in irreparable harm.

These remedies, while not exhaustive, represent the primary legal recourse available under Dutch contract law.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are the Steps to File a Lawsuit in Relation to a Contract Breach in the Netherlands?

To file a lawsuit for a contract breach in the Netherlands, initially, gather evidence of the breach. Then, consult a Dutch attorney to draft a summons (in Dutch: “dagvaarding”). Finally, submit the summons to a Dutch court for review.

How Long Does It Typically Take to Resolve a Breach of Contract Dispute in Dutch Courts?

The resolution time for breach of contract disputes in Dutch courts varies widely, typically ranging from several months to over a year, depending on the complexity of the case and court schedules.

Yes, in the Netherlands, verbal contracts are generally considered legally binding. Therefore, you can seek legal remedies for a breach of a verbally agreed upon contract in line with Dutch law.

Are There Any Alternative Dispute Resolution Methods, Like Mediation or Arbitration, Available in the Netherlands for Contract Breach Cases?

Yes, alternative dispute resolution methods like mediation and arbitration are indeed available in the Netherlands for contract breach cases. These methods are often favored for their efficiency and privacy, compared to traditional court proceedings.

Legal fees for pursuing a breach of contract case in the Netherlands can vary widely, depending on the complexity of the case. Costs may include attorney fees, court costs, and potentially, fees for expert witnesses or consultants.


In conclusion, the Dutch legal system provides a comprehensive and reliable framework to address contract breaches.The availability of remedies such as performance, replacement, termination, and damages offers aggrieved parties various paths to justice.As contract breaches continue to present significant challenges in business dealings, the understanding and effective application of these remedies can significantly safeguard the interests of parties involved in contractual agreements.

Contact our Dutch commercial Law firm

For any legal inquiries or support in the Netherlands regarding contract law or contract disputes, 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.