Are you an entrepreneur in the Netherlands and do you have a dispute with another entrepreneur, a consumer, a current or former employee or a current or former tenant? You have the option of taking the dispute to court. The court then issues a binding ruling which you and the other party must comply with.
Proceedings will be instigated in the first instance before the sub-district court or the civil court. Which court you go to depends on the kind of case or the value of the case.
You can also choose to resolve the dispute outside of a court. Several persons and organisations can help you (with legal assistance).
The sub-district court deals with:
- cases with a value of up to €25,000
- labour matters
- rental and leasing arrangements
- consumer purchase and credit matters
- minor offences (such as driving too fast)
You can represent yourself before the sub-district court – you do not have to hire a lawyer.
The civil court
The civil court deals with:
- summary proceedings (urgent procedure for a quick decision on all types of disputes)
- cases worth more than €25,000
- cases of undefined value (for example in a dispute on whether or not an arrangement exists, a dispute on noise nuisance)
The civil court rules on bankruptcy cases, for example. You need to hire a lawyer for cases before the civil courts.
Review of your case by the Court of Appeal
Do you disagree with the decision of the sub-district court or the civil court? You can file an appeal and the Court of Appeal will then review your case. This is only possible, however, in cases that are worth at least €1,750. You need to hire a lawyer for cases before the Court of Appeal.
You pay court fees (griffierecht, in Dutch) for the costs of the court proceedings at the court where your case is heard. The amount depends on the type and/or value of your case.
Subsidised legal assistance
If you have a low income, you might be eligible for subsidised legal assistance (in Dutch). The Dutch authorities will pay a portion of your lawyer expenses. Court fees are not included. But you can ask the court to reduce your court fees. You do not qualify for subsidised legal assistance if the dispute is related to your company.
Court Cases in English
Do you have an (international) commercial (or civil) dispute, you can have court cases heard in English at the Netherlands Commercial Court (NCC). The NCC is a special chamber of the Amsterdam District Court. They specialise in international business disputes.