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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
With voluntary debt restructuring you obtain assistance from a debt counsellor. These are provided by the Municipal Credit Bank (Gemeentelijke Kredietbank, GKB), social services or a specialist company. They help you reach an amicable agreement with your creditor(s). This is a voluntary payment arrangement. Your creditors do not have to agree to this.
Your debt counsellor will calculate how much you can repay a month. After making the repayments you will be left with the amount you need to live on. This amount is slightly below the benefit level.
Statutory debt restructuring
You can make an appeal to statutory debt restructuring work only if voluntary debt restructuring work fails. If one or more creditors do not agree to the voluntary debt restructuring, for example because you are not able to repay enough, then you can ask the court for your place of residence to order a statutory debt restructuring arrangement. That can be done under the Natural Persons Debt Restructuring Act (Wet schuldsanering natuurlijke personen, Wsnp). You must submit a written request and include a debt restructuring statement (schuldsaneringsverklaring) from the municipal council. You do not require an attorney for this.
If the court approves your application for statutory debt restructuring, the court will draw up a rescheduling plan. This will set out the repayment amount and the length of time that the process will cover. This is usually 3 years. Your creditors are obliged to cooperate with the debt restructuring arrangement. The court will appoint an administrator who will help you during this period. They will jointly manage your assets with you.
If the court rejects you application, you can appeal to the Court of Appeal. For this you will require an attorney.
As of 1 April 2017 debtors are granted a six month statutory grace period with regard to paying back their debt. During this moratorium creditors are not allowed to claim any money from them or confiscate any goods.