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If you are no longer able to pay your debts and you are a sole trader, partner in a partnership (maatschap or vennootschap) or a freelancer/self-employed professional, then you are personally liable for your business’s debts. You can appeal to your municipality for debt restructuring. If this fails you can appeal to court for debt restructuring.
Voluntary debt restructuring
When you appeal for voluntary debt restructuring, a debt counsellor will help you. Debt counsellors are appointed by the Municipal Credit Bank (Gemeentelijke Kredietbank, GKB), social services or a specialist company. They help you find a solution for repaying your debts with your creditor or creditors. This is called a voluntary payment arrangement.
Voluntary payment arrangement
When you enter the voluntary payment arrangement, you start by drawing up a plan with your debt counsellor. He or she will calculate how much you can repay per month. After that, the debt counsellor will propose a monthly repayment to your creditor or creditors. It is possible that your creditors will be asked to cancel part of the debt. If they agree, the remaining debt will be cancelled, on condition that you have done your best to pay back as much as possible in the period agreed upon (with a maximum of 3 years).
Statutory debt restructuring
If voluntary debt restructuring fails because one or more creditors do not agree to the voluntary debt restructuring, for example because you are unable to repay enough, you can ask the court in your place of residence for a statutory debt restructuring arrangement. That can be done under the Natural Persons Debt Restructuring Act (Wet schuldsanering natuurlijke personen, Wsnp). The Wsnp is a legal debt restructuring arrangement, that makes it possible for you to be debt-free within 36 months. When you appeal to the Wnsp, you will almost certainly have to end your business.
Debt restructuring plan
If the court approves your application for statutory debt restructuring, it will draw up a plan to reschedule your debts. This will set out the repayment amount and the length of time that the process will cover. This is usually 3 to 5 years. After that, any remaining debt will become a natural obligation (natuurlijke verbintenis) a debt that you should repay, but for which repayment will not be enforced.
Your creditors have to cooperate with the debt restructuring arrangement. If the court rejects you application, you can appeal to the Court of Appeal. For this you will require a lawyer.
The court will appoint an administrator. You must inform the administrator about everything that might be relevant for your situation. The administrator will calculate how much money you will live on. All income that exceeds this sum will go to an estate account. He or she uses this account to repay your creditors, and his or her own fee.
Wage seizure employee
Does your employee have debts? And is your employee unable to repay those debts? Then the court bailiff can seize part of your employee’s wages. This is called a wage seizure. The bailiff needs a court sentence or court order to do this. You have to give information about your employee’s wages and personal situation. When a wage seizure is imposed, you have to pay part of your employee’s wages to the bailiff, and the remaining amount to your employee.
Cross-border cases in English
If you are involved in a cross-border solvency case, you can turn to the Netherlands Commercial Court. Cases can be heard by the Netherlands Commercial Court, in the following cases, if:
- the proceedings fall under the jurisdiction of the Amsterdam District Court or Amsterdam Court of Appeal;
- the parties have expressly agreed in writing that proceedings will be in English before the NCC (the 'NCC agreement');
- the action is a civil or commercial matter within the parties’ autonomy;
- the matter concerns an international dispute.