The Dutch Civil Code includes a statute of limitations, stating the time limit to bring a claim under Dutch law. In general, a claim expires after 20 years, unless the law prescribes otherwise (Article 3:306, DCC). However, the right to claim performance of a contractual obligation expires five years after the date the cause of action arises (Article 3:307 − 310, DCC). The limitation period begins a) the day proceeding that of which the damages occurred and b) when the claimant becomes aware of who the defendant is.
Under Dutch law a claimant can file a contractual claim, regardless of whether damage has occurred. The cause of action accrues on the date of the breach of contract and the five-year limitation period runs from this date.
When the contractual obligation concerns an obligation to perform something at an indefinite time, the general rule applies where the claimant can bring a claim within 20 years after the date that the cause of action arises.
A claim for compensation or to pay a penalty must be made within five years of the day following the day the claimant becomes aware of:
When the damage is due to air, soil or water pollution, the right of action to a damages claim becomes prescribed on the date 30 years after the day on which the even occurred that caused the damage.
When a claim for damages is made due to death or injury, the right of action becomes prescribed on the expiry of 5 years from the day following the day on which the injury or death happened.
Under Dutch law a limitation period can be interrupted by (article 3:316 of the Dutch Civil Code):
By interrupting a limitation period, a new limitation period will begin on the day following the interruption.
Limitation periods can also be extended in relation to certain parties. Conditions for extension of a period is outlined in articles 3:320 and 3:321 of the Dutch Civil Code.
It is not possible to eliminate or suspend a statute of limitations in the Netherlands until the limitation period has elapsed (article 3:322 (3) of the Dutch Civil Code).