Justice System

Dutch Justice: Accessible and Affordable

Dutch court proceedings are practical, informal, effective and less voluminous -and therefore faster and significantly less expensive- than in common law or Anglo-American justice systems. No lengthy hearings, no costly ‘disclosure’/’discovery’ proceedings or ‘cross examinations’. The judge plays an active role. Parties are represented in court by their lawyer only and not by a solicitor as well as a barrister.

The Dutch civil justice ranks no. 1 on the Rule of Law Index of the World Justice Project 2017/18.

Court Procedure

Dutch court procedures are known for their practical approach, which contributes to resolving disputes efficiently. The judge plays an active role.

Most court cases start with a writ of summons or application, containing the statement of claim. The defendant may then file a statement of defense, after which parties are to appear in person at a hearing before the court. The object of this hearing is for the judge(s) to ask questions and to investigate the possibility of an amicable settlement. If no settlement is reached, a judgment follows, in which the court can take final or interim decisions and/or decide on the next procedural steps to be taken. Subject to their obligation to properly inform the court, parties only submit evidence which they consider necessary for their case. The court may order the provision of additional evidence. Judgments can be appealed before the Courts of Appeal. The Supreme Court will decide on the law only (not on facts).

Read more: Dutch judicial system (PDF)

24/7

Dutch courts can be addressed for injunction proceedings around the clock for urgent maritime matters such as ship arrest.

Specialised Court and Proceedings in English

The Rotterdam district court is highly specialized in maritime, transport and trade matters. The maritime chamber of the Rotterdam court has- within the boundaries of EU rules- exclusive jurisdiction in nearly all shipping cases in the Netherlands. Many port-related cases result from an international context. That is why parties can opt to conduct legal proceedings in English. Summaries in English of important (maritime) court rulings are published: English summaries of civil court cases.

Read more: Procedure rules for proceedings in English (PDF)

Read more: The port and the court (PDF)

Recovery and Auction

The many vessels and goods present in Dutch ports and industry areas offer great opportunities for finding recovery for your claim. Vessels can be auctioned in the Netherlands within 6 weeks. The buyers may benefit from the activities in Dutch ports facilitating the booking of new cargoes.

Publication of Judgments

144 Dutch judgments on maritime and transport matters are published yearly in the monthly law report Schip en Schade.
All Dutch judgments are available online free of charge in Dutch.

Translations in English of recent summaries of maritime judgments are published by the Rotterdam District Court.
Read more: English summaries of civil court cases

Dutch judicial decisions (in English) on international conventions can also be found on the CMI database.

Enforcement of Dutch Court Judgments

Dutch judgments can be enforced immediately in all EU countries as per EU Regulation 1215/2012. The Netherlands are further party to the Lugano Convention 2007 enabling enforcement in the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries. Even in the absence of EU law or international conventions Dutch judgments are recognised worldwide on the basis of the principles of international comity.

Court Fees:

Read more: District Court, Court of Appeal, Supreme Court

For expert, speedy and
affordable dispute resolution

go Dutch!