Broadly speaking, the law of civil procedure recognises the following categories of time limit:
Besides Saturdays and Sundays, the Algemene Termijnenwet (General Time Limits Act) specifies the following days as generally recognised public holidays:
|New Year’s Day||1 January|
|Good Friday||Friday before Easter|
|Easter Monday||Monday after Easter Sunday|
|Ascension||Thursday 40 days after Easter|
|Whit Monday||Monday after Whit Sunday|
|Christmas and Boxing Day||25 and 26 December|
|Queen’s Day (celebration of the Queen’s birthday)||30 April|
|Liberation Day||5 May|
The time limits mentioned at 1a. are laid down in the Dutch Code of Civil Procedure. See Articles 114-119 and 276 (summoning of parties and third parties) and Articles 170 and 284 (calling of witnesses).
The time limits mentioned at 1b. are also to be found there. See Article 143 (objection), Articles 339 and 358 (appeal on a point of fact), Articles 402 and 426 (appeal on a point of law) and Articles 383 and 391 (rescission).
The time limits mentioned at 1c. are laid down in part in the Code of Civil Procedure, but they are further developed in the court listing rules. Thus, for instance, the national regulations on the civil cause lists of the ordinary courts specify time limits of 6 weeks for the performance of procedural acts by parties and the delivery of judgment, whereas district courts in principle work with time limits of 4 weeks in compliance with the national regulations on the civil cause lists of the district court sector.
Limitation periods (1d.) are laid down in the Civil Code (Article 3:306-325 BW).
In addition, statutory limitation periods are subject to the rules of the General Extension of Time Limits Act.
The time limit for lodging an objection (only possible against judgment by default) has three different starting points:
The time limit for appealing on a point of fact or law against judgments starts to run from the date of their pronouncement.
The time limit for appealing on a point of fact or law against orders is calculated for the plaintiff and for interested parties appearing in the procedure from the date of pronouncement, but for other interested parties from the date of service or of the order being made known to them by another means.
The time limit for rescission of judgments and orders commences after the ground for rescission has arisen and the plaintiff or applicant has been made aware of it, but in any event not before the ruling has become final, i.e. can no longer be undone by objection, appeal on a point of fact or appeal on a point of law.
The first day of the time limit is always the first day after the operative event.
The fixed time limits for performing procedural acts in general run from the previous cause list date in whole weeks. After a cause list hearing on a Wednesday, for example, the case appears on the list again on the Wednesday 4 weeks later.
If the case is not included on the list, for example because of the taking of evidence, the court then specifies the date on which the case will be relisted.
The commencement of limitation periods for legal actions depends on the type of action. Thus, for instance, an action for performance of an obligation under a contract for goods or services is time‑barred 5 years from the start of the day following that on which the action accrued. To take another example, an action in delict is time‑barred 5 years from the start of the day following that on which the immediate cessation of the delictuous behaviour may be sought.
The power of enforcement is in principle time‑barred 20 years from the start of the day following that of pronouncement of judgment.
The first day of the limitation period is generally the first day after the operative event.
No. However, in some cases, the way in which a party is made aware of the pronouncement affects the starting date for seeking a legal remedy. See 4. above.
No. The time limit begins on the following day.
For example, if a person receives a document on Monday 4 April with the requirement that he/she must respond within 14 days, does this mean that the person must respond before
Monday 18 April (calendar days) or
before Friday 22 April (working days)?
Dutch law – unless otherwise specified – works with calendar days. The General Extension of Time Limits Act does, however, provide that a time limit that ends on a Saturday, Sunday or a generally recognised public holiday is extended to include the next date thereafter that is not a Saturday, Sunday or a generally recognised public holiday. In the example, the response must be given before Monday 18 April but the time limit will therefore be extended to include Monday 18 April.
Moreover, a time limit of at least 3 days laid down by law will be extended as necessary so that it includes at least 2 days that are not a Saturday, Sunday or a generally recognised public holiday.
Calendar months and calendar years apply here too. An appeal against a judgment that was pronounced on 26 February must be lodged by 26 May at the latest, unless this is a Saturday, Sunday or a generally recognised public holiday, in which case the time limit is extended (see 5b.). An appeal against a judgment that was pronounced on 31 March must be commenced by 30 June at the latest, unless this is a Saturday, Sunday or a generally recognised public holiday, in which case the time limit is extended.
In summons proceedings, legal remedies are set in motion by the service of a summons. The bailiff may not – except with the permission of the court in which the summons is heard – serve the writ of summons after 20:00. Thus, in fact, the last day of the period ends at 20:00.
NB: In these proceedings account must be taken of the fact that, in calculating the deadline, it is not just the date of summons but also the date by which compliance is demanded (the first cause list date) that is not included. The minimum summons period must therefore be set between these two dates.
In application proceedings, proceedings are commenced by the submission of an application to the clerk of court. This may be done either by post or by physical delivery during opening hours and by fax until 24:00 on the last day.
NB: For appeals in family cases, a somewhat different commencement period applies than for appeals in other application proceedings (see 4. Legal remedies). In these cases, appeals may be commenced by the applicant and those to whom a copy of the order has been provided or sent, within 3 months of the date of pronouncement and by other interested parties within 3 months of service or of the order being made known to them by another means.
If a case is on the cause list, the following applies to the submission of procedural documents. In the civil section of the court, procedural documents are submitted in court. If there is no court hearing because the case is being decided by written procedure, then the documents are submitted to the clerk of court before or on the cause list date.
In the district court sector there is always a hearing because procedural acts may also be performed orally. Procedural documents are submitted at the hearing or before the cause list date to the clerk of court.
Submission to the clerk of court may be either by post or by physical delivery during opening hours and by fax until 24:00.
See 4. Limitation periods. With some legal actions, the time that a particular fact comes to light is important. For example, an action arising from undue payment is time‑barred 5 years from the start of the day following that on which the creditor becomes aware of both the existence of the claim and the identity of the recipient and in any event 20 years after the action accrued.
A time limit that ends on a Saturday, Sunday or a generally recognised public holiday is extended to include the next day thereafter that is not a Saturday, Sunday or a generally recognised public holiday. However, in accordance with the General Extension of Time Limits Act, this does not apply to deadlines specified by working back from a date or an event. In other words, the rule applies to maximum time limits and not to minimum time limits.
NB: For time limits expressed in terms of more than 3 months or 1 or more years, the extension provided for in the General Extension of Time Limits Act does not apply.
Different summons time limits apply as follows.
If the defendant in summons proceedings has a known address or a known actual residence outside the Netherlands in a State where the EU Council Regulation on service of 29 May 2000 (OJ No L 160, 30.6.2000, p. 37) applies or in a State situated in Europe which is a party to the 1965 Hague Convention on Service (Netherlands Treaty Series 1966, 91), then the time limit for appearance is at least 4 weeks.
If the defendant has no known address or known actual residence either in the Netherlands or in one of the above-mentioned States, then the time limit for appearance is at least 3 months. This also applies to inhabitants of the Dutch Antilles and Aruba, which are not members of the EU.
For the legal remedy of objection, a time limit of 8 weeks applies instead of the usual time limit of 4 weeks if the person judged by default has no known address or known actual residence in the Netherlands as at the date of commencement of the time limit (see 4. Legal remedies) but his address or actual residence outside the Netherlands is known.
In application proceedings summonses are issued by the clerk of court. They are issued as early as possible and at least 1 week before the hearing, unless the court decides otherwise. In cases in which the applicant or interested parties live abroad, the court will (be able to) take this into account in determining the time limit.
In accordance with the revised Code of Civil Procedure for the Dutch Antilles and Aruba which came into force on 1 August 2005 (Dutch Official Gazette A 2005 No 59), the plaintiff brings his action by making an application to the court of first instance. If the plaintiff cannot write, he may present his claim orally to the court, which writes it down or has it written down. The clerk of court then records the case in the general register. The case is pending from this date of registration. The court thereupon sets a date and time for the hearing. The defendant is then summoned by means of a bailiff's writ by order of the court. There is no minimum time limit specified for summonses. In certain cases the court may take into account the fact that defendants live abroad.
In application proceedings, the procedure followed is more like that in the Netherlands. Summonses are issued by the clerk of court. They are issued as early as possible and at least 2 weeks before the hearing, unless the court decides otherwise. Here, too, it is up to the court to take into account the fact that applicants and interested parties may live abroad.
In interlocutory proceedings (expedited procedure), shorter time limits than the usual 3 months apply to appeals on a point of fact and appeals on a point of law, namely 4 and 8 weeks respectively.
Time limits for appearance may be shortened by the court at the plaintiff’s request, with conditions being attached as necessary. In interlocutory proceedings summonses are only issued after the summary trial judge has decided on the date and time for the hearing; this may even be on a Sunday. If necessary, a summons can be issued at very short notice. The court may also specify a shorter appearance time limit in application proceedings.
Time limits for the performance of procedural acts by parties may be extended by the court if this is jointly requested by the parties. In the event of a unilateral request, an extension will only be granted for good reason or in case of force majeure. Good reasons are, for example, the factual or legal complexity of the case, rulings awaited from other relevant proceedings, and the sickness or absence of the party himself or of his legal representative.
If the person summoned to appear as a defendant has no known address or known actual residence in the Netherlands, the extended appearance time limits for foreigners (see 7.) do not apply if the summons is issued in the Netherlands to the defendant in person or to an address chosen for the case at issue by the defendant. The time limit is then at least 1 week.
If a person is summoned to appear as a defendant with too little notice, the summons is invalid if the defendant does not appear. If, however, the defendant appears and if he refers to this defect, then the court may order repair of the defect at the plaintiff’s expense. If the defendant appears and does not refer to this defect, then the defect is repaired.
If the defendant does not appear on the first cause list date, then the summons is checked for invalidity. If the summons is in order, then judgment by default will be entered against the defendant and the action will generally be upheld by default.
If the time limit for seeking a legal remedy is exceeded, then the sanction is inadmissibility. The underlying judicial decision becomes res judicata.
If proceedings are not instituted within the time limit specified for them, an extension may be granted in certain circumstances (see 10.). If no extension can be granted, then the right to institute legal proceedings is forfeited.
If the interested party has allowed the time limit for instituting legal proceedings to expire, then the right of action continues to exist as a protected personal legal claim. But it can no longer be pursued in court. All that remains is a related “natural obligation”.
A defendant who fails to appear on the first cause list date is as a rule judged by default. Until the judgment becomes final, the defendant may still purge this default by appearing as a party to the proceedings. After the judgment has become final, the person judged by default may lodge an objection.
In application proceedings there is no default, purging or objection. The party who failed to appear may lodge an appeal.
Time limits for seeking legal remedies are applied automatically. Here the courts are very strict with regard to legal certainty. However, the Supreme Court has introduced some flexibility with regard to appeals in application proceedings. The notice of appeal must contain the grounds for the appeal, but in cases where the decision has been handed down but not yet served and the appellant therefore does not yet have the reasoning available, it is permissible to present the grounds for the appeal in a later, supplementary notice of appeal. However, the appeal itself must be lodged within the time limit. Only in one case of a double mistake by the court has the time limit been extended by 14 days after receipt of the decision. In that case, the party who lodged the appeal did not know and could not have known when the decision had been handed down owing to an error by (the clerk of) the court, and the decision was not served until after expiry of the appeal time limit as the result of a mistake by someone else.
In summons proceedings the appeal summons does not have to contain the grounds for the appeal; these are presented only later at the hearing.
An extension may be requested (see 10.) in certain circumstances for the performance of procedural acts. If no extension is granted, then the right to bring proceedings is forfeited.
There is no remedy for letting limitation periods expire, apart from suspension of the period (see 1. d.).Top
Last update: 04-05-2007