International Society of Primerus Law Firms

Netherlands Commercial Court has opened its doors

Russell Advocaten B.V.
Amsterdam, Netherlands

Since 1 January 2019, there is an English language Commercial Court in the Netherlands. What are the benefits for international commercial disputes?

What is the Netherlands Commercial Court?

The Netherlands Commercial Court (NCC) is a Dutch court that specializes in international commercial disputes. The Court consists of two chambers; one is a chamber of the Amsterdam District Court (NCC District Court) and the other one of the Amsterdam Court of Appeal (NCC Court of Appeal). The NCC will also hear preliminary relief proceedings. Litigation is only possible with a Dutch lawyer.

The NCC deals with matters in English by default and shall also render decisions in English, unless both parties have specified during the proceedings that they wish to conduct the proceedings in Dutch. Which law will be applicable during the proceedings is determined by the choice of law in the contract. If no choice of law has been made, the international rules for determining which law is applicable are to be followed. The Dutch procedural rules will be applicable during the proceedings.

The NCC was created to meet the wishes of internationally active businesses. For some time there has been the need for a specialized English speaking court in the Netherlands. There are already specialized courts for international commercial matters in other countries, for instance in England, Germany and Dubai.

What kind of matters will be dealt with?

The NCC only deals with commercial disputes with an international element but this requirement can be satisfied easily. This could, for instance, include a dispute between a Dutch company and its foreign parent. There are no requirements regarding the value and scope of the dispute. The focus of the NCC is on major and complex international disputes. These may vary from contractual claims to claims based on wrongful acts.

For whom

For internationally active Dutch businesses the NCC is a relief. International commercial contracts are often drafted in English and parties often communicate in this language. Now that it is possible to litigate in English, translations are no longer necessary, which reduces the costs. Also, documents in Dutch, German, and French do not have to be translated unless the court indicates that this needs to be done. Besides, the legal costs of the NCC are lower than of many institutions for international arbitration.

Choice of forum for NCC required

The parties must have explicitly agreed upon the jurisdiction of the NCC. This can be agreed upon in advance in the contract or retrospectively, when a dispute has arisen. A choice of forum for the NCC that is only included in the General Terms & Conditions will not be sufficient. In addition, litigation in English is expressly to be agreed upon.

Our advice

  • Do include a choice of forum for the NCC in your international contracts. This will increase the attractiveness of litigation in the Netherlands to the other party.
  • Consult a lawyer specializing in international commercial law for formulating a choice of forum clause and dealing with the dispute before the NCC.

The general information contained herein is intended for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be, and should not be construed as, legal advice or legal opinion on any specific facts or circumstances.

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