2 min reading time

What to do with a default judgement?


When a defendant does not appear on the date set for a hearing in a Dutch court, the judge will likely pass judgment in default. The defendant can then lodge an objection to this judgement, instead of lodging an appeal. Dutch litigation lawyer Hidde Reitsma explains this special legal action, that should be taken as soon as possible. 

Second chance to appear in court

A party who is summoned (or subpoenaed), is called to appear for a court in the Netherlands on a set date. If he fails to appear, the court will declare the defendant to be in default through non-appearance. The case will (usually, but not always!) be deferred for a couple of weeks before a judgment is passed. During this period, the defendant still can (and usually will) be granted the possibility to show up in order to prevent a judgment in default to be passed. When the defendant appears after all, the procedure will continue as normal.

Objection procedure: case is reopened

If the defendant fails to appear entirely, the judge will generally allow the claim of the plaintiff in full. This judgment has immediate effect, which means that it can be executed right away. It is not common to file an appeal to this judgment because the law prescribes a different legal action instead: the proceedings to have a default judgment set aside. These proceedings commence by issuing a notice of objection to the original plaintiff. The case will take place before the judge who passed the judgment in default in the first place.

Term for notice of objection

The term for issuing this notice is 4 weeks (but in some cases, when the defendant is not domiciled in The Netherlands, 8 weeks) and begins after one of the following events take place:

  • after the bailiff serves the notice of judgment (which was passed in default of appearance of the defendant) personally on the defendant;
  • after the defendant has performed an act proving knowledge with the main content of the judgment;
  • after the execution of the judgment is completed.

There is no order of priority between these terms: which ever term starts first, decides when the notice period expires.

Dutch law firm specialized in litigation

The above mentioned events can lead to discussion: what is an act proving knowledge, when is the execution of a judgment completed? As the notice period is final, a defendant who wishes to lodge an objection to a judgment in default is advised to seek legal advice as soon as he learns that a judgment is passed against him. Dutch law firm AMS has outstanding litigators who have a great deal of experience with these proceedings and can take swift and adequate measures.

Hidde Reitsma

Hidde Reitsma

Hidde has a varied consultancy and litigation practice, focusing on corporate law and insolvency law. He frequently acts in proceedings before the Enterprise Chamber of the Court of Appeal in Amsterdam and in cases on directors’ liability. Hidde also advises on drawing up and negotiating contracts, mergers and acquisitions and joint ventures. Follow Hidde on LinkedIn.

Ravel Residence