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Last update: 15-11-2006
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Bringing a case to court - Netherlands

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Imagine a situation in which you are in dispute with a company, a professional person, your employer, a member of your family or somebody else in your own country or abroad. In order to solve this problem, you ask yourself a number of questions:



 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Questions prior to commencing the court action: Questions prior to commencing the court action:
1. Do I have to go to court? 1.
2. Am I still in time to bring a court action? 2.
3. Am I sure that I should go to a court in the Netherlands? 3.
4. Which particular court should I go to in the Netherlands, given where I live and where the other party lives, or other aspects of my case? 4.
5. Which particular court should I go to in this Member State, given the nature of my case and the amount at stake? 5.
Procedure for bringing a court action Procedure for bringing a court action
6. Can I bring a court action by myself or do I have to ask an intermediary, as for example being represented by a solicitor? 6.
7. Who exactly do I apply to: to the reception office, the office of the clerk of the court or some other body? 7.
8. In which language can I make my application? Can I do it orally or does it have to be in writing? Can I send it by fax or by e-mail? 8.
9. Are there special forms for bringing actions, or, if not, how must I present my case? 9.
10. Will I have to pay court charges? If so, when? Will I have to pay a lawyer right from the beginning? 10.
11. Can I claim legal aid? (legal aid file) 11.
Follow-up Follow-up
12. When is my action officially considered to have been brought? Will the authorities give me some confirmation that my case has been properly presented? 12.
13. Will I have detailed information about the timing of subsequent events (such as the time allowed for me to enter an appearance)? 13.

 

Questions prior to commencing the court action:

1. Do I have to go to court?

It might be better to use “Alternative dispute resolution” – see theme.

2. Am I still in time to bring a court action?

Time limits for bringing court actions vary according to the case. Questions relating to time limits can be clarified with a legal adviser or at a specialist office providing information on gaining access to the law. See theme “Legal aid - Netherlands.

3. Am I sure that I should go to a court in the Netherlands?

See theme “Jurisdiction of the courts ‑ Netherlands.

4. Which particular court should I go to in the Netherlands, given where I live and where the other party lives, or other aspects of my case?

See theme “Jurisdiction of the courts ‑ Netherlands.

5. Which particular court should I go to in this Member State, given the nature of my case and the amount at stake?

See theme “Jurisdiction of the courts ‑ Netherlands.

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Procedure for bringing a court action

6. Can I bring a court action by myself or do I have to ask an intermediary, as for example being represented by a solicitor?

As a rule, in the Netherlands, parties in civil and commercial cases must be represented by a solicitor ("advocaat"). In order to bring a court action, you need the help of a solicitor. It makes no difference whether the action in question involves a summons procedure, an application procedure, interlocutory proceedings, an interim measure or, for instance, a default procedure.

The sole exceptions are for claims of €5 000 or less, or for claims of indeterminate value where there are clear indications that the amount in question will not exceed €5 000. In such cases the sub-district court judge ("kantonrechter") has jurisdiction, which means that the parties can proceed by themselves and do not need to be represented by a solicitor. This also applies inter alia to cases involving an employment contract, an agency agreement and a lease or hire-purchase agreement, irrespective of the maximum amount or value of the claim. Actions in a sub-district court must, however, be brought by a bailiff ("deurwaarder").

7. Who exactly do I apply to: to the reception office, the office of the clerk of the court or some other body?

The documents necessary to bring a court action must be sent to the office of the clerk of the court with jurisdiction. It should be borne in mind that summons procedures and application procedures are not the same. In the case of summons procedures, the respondent must first be served with the summons, and then the writ is served at the office of the clerk of the court. Both procedures must be carried out by a bailiff. Afterwards the procedure takes place via the cause list. In an application procedure the application is lodged direct with the office of the clerk of the court and the rest of the procedure takes place via this office. (cf. Service of documents - Netherlands)

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8. In which language can I make my application? Can I do it orally or does it have to be in writing? Can I send it by fax or by e-mail?

The language of the courts in the Netherlands is Dutch. Accordingly, the initial summons or application initiating proceedings must be drawn up in that language. An exception is made for documents in proceedings before a court in Friesland province. These documents may be drawn up in Frisian.

Documents may also be served at the office of the clerk of the court by fax. Documents received by the office of the clerk of the court by fax before midnight on the date of the deadline are deemed to have been served within the deadline. The law does not rule out transmission by other modern forms of communication, such as email.

9. Are there special forms for bringing actions, or, if not, how must I present my case?

No special forms are required under Dutch law.

However, the law does lay down certain requirements as to the contents of the initial summons or the application initiating proceedings.

If a party quotes a document in connection with a summons, pleadings or deed, it must append a copy thereof.

10. Will I have to pay court charges? If so, when? Will I have to pay a lawyer right from the beginning?

When instituting legal proceedings, a registry fee must be paid. The amount of the fee depends on the type of dispute and the amount involved. In practice, your solicitor will advance you the amount and add it to your legal bill. If it is necessary in the course of proceedings to use the services of an expert (such as an accountant, a medical specialist or a technical consultant, the judge will order the related costs to be borne by the losing party, unless he decides otherwise (e.g. in family-law cases, in which the costs are usually borne by the party which incurred them). This also applies to expenses of witnesses or costs associated with other forms of evidence.

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Solicitors charge a fee for their work based on an hourly rate. In principle, solicitors’ fees in the Netherlands are not regulated. Before proceeding, you should ask your solicitor for details of his fees or contact the Netherlands Bar Association ("Nederlandse Orde van Advocaten") for information. Most solicitors ask for an advance and claim their fees in the course of proceedings, ending with a final balance.

11. Can I claim legal aid? (legal aid file)

Legal aid is available in the Netherlands. The website of the Legal Aid Council ("Raad voor Rechtsbijstand" Nederlands) indicates who is eligible for legal aid and what the associated conditions are.

Follow-up

12. When is my action officially considered to have been brought? Will the authorities give me some confirmation that my case has been properly presented?

In the summons procedure the case is pending from the date of the summons. The writ must be served at the office of the clerk of the court by the claimant by the last day on which the office is open prior to the cause list date indicated in the summons procedure. The clerk of the court enters the case to the cause list of a single chamber.

If the writ is not served at the office of the clerk of the court by that deadline, the case is deleted from the list, unless a valid replacement writ is issued within two weeks of the cause list date indicated in the summons procedure.

In an application procedure the case is pending from the moment when the application is lodged with the office of the clerk of the court.

As a rule, the authorities do not provide confirmation that a case has been properly presented. Where a summons procedure contains errors, the plaintiffs are in some cases given an opportunity to resolve the problem. The same applies to application procedures. However, the office of the clerk of the court is under no obligation to proceed as described above.

13. Will I have detailed information about the timing of subsequent events (such as the time allowed for me to enter an appearance)?

The office of the clerk of the court or the competent judge cannot provide detailed information on the timing of a procedure because this depends on circumstances beyond their control. As a rule, however, the solicitor or office of the clerk of the court should be able to give an approximate idea of when a case will be heard, but this information is strictly non-binding.

Further information

The following sites are relevant:

  • De Raad voor Rechtsbijstand Nederlands
  • Justitie English - Nederlands
  • Nederlandse Orde van Advocaten English - Nederlands
  • De Rechtspraak English - Nederlands

« Bringing a case to court - General information | Netherlands - General information »

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Last update: 15-11-2006

 
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