International commercial dispute resolution- in the Netherlands


When can an action be initiated in the Netherlands Commercial Court?

Court action may be initiated in the Netherlands Commercial Court when it concerns a civil or commercial matter within the autonomy of the parties and when the matter is not subject to the jurisdiction of the Cantonal Court or the exclusive jurisdiction of any other chamber or court. The matter has to have an international aspect. The parties to the proceedings must have designated the Amsterdam District Court as the forum to hear their case, or that court must have jurisdiction to hear the action on other grounds. Furthermore, the parties must have expressly agreed that the proceedings will be in English and will be governed by the rules of the Netherlands Commercial Court.


What is the language of these legal proceedings in the Netherlands?

The language of the legal proceedings in the Netherlands Commercial Court is English. The court may permit the parties to proceed in Dutch, on certain issues or all issues, if the parties to the proceedings unanimously so request after the originating document is filed. The parties must notify the court of such request as soon as practicable.


What if a party to these legal proceedings does not have a sufficient command of English?

If that party to legal proceedings in the Netherlands Commercial Court does not have a sufficient command of English and desires the assistance of an interpreter at a hearing, that party may hire an interpreter at its own expense. And if a party wishes to examine a witness or expert who does not have a sufficient command of English, that party must arrange for assistance by an interpreter at its own expense.


Does a party to legal proceedings in the Netherlands Commercial Court need to be represented by a Dutch lawyer?

Yes, a party may not act pro se. A party to proceedings in the Netherlands Commercial Court must be represented by a Dutch lawyer who is a member of the Dutch Bar (in Dutch: "advocaat"), except where Dutch law provides otherwise. Acts of process, such as the submission of a claim or defence, must also be done by a member of the Dutch Bar. Foreign lawyers who are members of the bars in Member States of the European Union, the European Economic Area or Switzerland, may not do such acts of process, but they may act for a party in other ways. Other visiting lawyers may not act for a party, but the court may allow them to speak at any hearing.


How do parties submit documents to the Netherlands Commercial Court?

The internet portal of the Netherlands Commercial Court is the only means of communication with the court and must be used for all submissions, including a claim or defence, exhibits, applications, requests and notifications to the court. Original documents or objects that may be relied on as evidence but are not suitable for submission via the internet portal may be deposited by a Dutch lawyer with the clerk of the Netherlands Commercial Court.


Are parties allowed to speak with a judge of the Netherlands Commercial Court?

The parties to the proceedings in the Netherlands Commercial Court are not permitted to speak with the judge except at a hearing or conference. The parties may contact the clerk of the Netherlands Commercial Court, but only on matters of a practical or procedural nature. They must promptly inform the other parties of what they discuss with the clerk.


When and how should exhibits be submitted to the Netherlands Commercial Court?

Exhibits must be submitted to the Netherlands Commercial Court with the document (such as a claim or defence) in which reference is made to the exhibit. Exhibits must be organised so as to facilitate easy access by the court and the parties. Exhibits must be numbered (the numbering to be continued in each consecutive document), but each party may use its own numbering system. Exhibits must be submitted with a document that references each exhibit, indicates the relevance to the proceedings, and specifies any relevant passages. Where a party submits an exhibit in a language that is not the language of the action, the party must clearly raise this point and state whether a translation is enclosed. Exhibits must not contain any comments or markings that are not included in the original.


How is the fairness of the legal proceedings secured?

The Netherlands Commercial Court must give the parties the opportunity to present their arguments, respond to the other party’s arguments, and to express their views on all documents and other information in the legal proceedings. The parties to the proceedings must make a full and truthful presentation of the relevant facts. In the event of noncompliance, the court may draw adverse inferences as it considers appropriate. A party that relies on any document must submit a copy, except where a copy has already been submitted in the same court action.


How is due process warranted?

The Netherlands Commercial Court must give all such directions as may facilitate the just, fair and speedy disposition of the court action. The Netherlands Commercial Court must prevent any unreasonable delay. And the parties themselves also have a duty to each other to prevent any unreasonable delay.


What are the time limits in the legal proceedings before the Netherlands Commercial Court?

The time limit for any act of process is to be set by the Netherlands Commercial Court. The following time limits apply:

  1. for a claim or defence or similar statement: six weeks
  2. for an extensive brief: four weeks
  3. for a simple brief: two weeks.

Can parties request an extension of time limits in the court action in the Netherlands Commercial Court?

Yes, a party may request an extension. The Netherlands Commercial Court shall grant a unanimous request by the parties, unless this would cause unreasonable delay. Otherwise, extensions are only granted for compelling reasons. At a party’s request or of its own initiative, the court may direct that any time limit be extended or shortened as may be required for due process. If a party fails to comply with a time limit and no extension is granted, its right to do the act of process is waived.


How many judges are in the judicial panel of the Netherlands Commercial Court?

A three-judge panel hears and decides cases brought before the Netherlands Commercial Court.


How do you start court action before the Netherlands Commercial Court?

An action before the Netherlands Commercial Court is initiated by submitting a so-called "originating document" that states the claim. In addition to the other particulars required by law, this originating document must specify:

  1. the claim and the grounds of that claim
  2. the defences which have been asserted by the defendant, the grounds of those defences and the claimant's reply to those defences
  3. the exhibits available to the claimant and the identity of the witnesses whose testimony it relies on to substantiate the disputed grounds of the claim
  4. the designation of the court hearing the matter: "the Amsterdam District Court (Netherlands Commercial Court)" or "the Amsterdam Court of Appeal (Netherlands Commercial Court of Appeal)”
  5. the confirmation that parties have indeed agreed to proceed in accordance with the rules of procedure
  6. the e-mail address of the claimant's lawyer
  7. and the name and the e-mail address of the lawyer of each defendant.

What exhibits should be included to the originating document?

In legal proceedings before the Netherlands Commercial Court the originating document must at least include the following exhibits:

  1. documents demonstrating that the matter has an international aspect
  2. the agreement or other evidence demonstrating that the conditions to litigate before the Netherlands Commercial Court are satisfied (please note: a clause contained in general terms and conditions does not satisfy this provision)
  3. any agreements made with respect to the costs of litigation
  4. and all available exhibits to substantiate the claim.

More information? Mail me.