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Recognition of a foreign judgment in The Netherlands


If a  Dutch individual or company is involved in litigation abroad, is it important to realize that when the proceedings have successfully ended, the claim should be recovered upon that party in The Netherlands. Foreign judgments given in almost every European country, and in many countries outside Europe, can easily be recognized and enforced in The Netherlands. Dutch lawyer Thomas van Vugt, owner at law firm AMS attorneys and specialised in debt collection, explains.

Costs of recognition of a judgement in The Netherlands

If a judgement is given in another EU-member state than in The Netherlands, it is, under the EU execution regulation (EU council regulation number no. 44/2001, the so called “EEX-regulation”) more or less a formality  to have this judgment recognized and declared enforceable in The Netherlands. Under the EEX-regulation, any judgement given by a court or tribunal of a member state, whatever the judgement may be called (a decree, order, decision, or writ of execution, or the determination of costs or expenses by an officer of the court) shall be declared enforceable in The Netherlands without any special procedure being required. The judgement can be recognized in standard proceedings before the president of the court of the place where the party against whom enforcement is sought is domiciled. Since recognition proceedings are of a more or less standard nature, it should not be expensive to conduct such proceedings.

Recognition and enforcement of a judgment: Dutch lawyer

The Netherlands is a party to the Lugano Convention. Under the Lugano Convention, the recognition of a judgement of most European countries that are not EU-member states (among which Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland) can be done under more or less the same procedure as under the EEX regulation. The recognition proceedings for judgements issued in these countries are generally equal to the proceedings under the EEX-regulation.

Enforcement of an international arbitral award (judgment)

International arbitral judgements are not directly enforceable in The Netherlands. In cases of international arbitration, arbitral judgements can be recognized and declared enforceable in The Netherlands only if both The Netherlands and the country in which the judgment is made are a party to a treaty on the recognition of international arbitral awards. At this time, approximately 142 of the 192 members of the United Nations have adopted the so called New York Convention. The NY-convention requires courts of convicting states to recognize and declare enforceable any arbitrational judgements issued in other contacting states. The New York Convention therefore is a fundamental instrument for international arbitration. Under the convention an arbitral (arbitrational) award issued in another state can generally spoken be declared enforceable in any other contracting state. Only a limited number of defenses are allowed, being:

  • a party to the arbitrational award was incapable of entering into the arbitrational agreement under the applicable law;
  • the agreement to arbitration was invalid under the applicable law;
  • a party to the arbitration was not given notice of the appointment of an or all the arbitrator(s), or was otherwise unable to present its case or to appear before the tribunal;
  • the award deals with an issue that was not subject to the agreement to submit the case to arbitration, or certain  matters have been decided beyond the scope of the arbitration
  • the composition of the arbitrational tribunal was not done in line with the agreement to arbitration, or with the applicable law
  • the award has not yet become binding upon the parties (for any legal reason);
  • the subject of the arbitration was not capable of resolution by ways of arbitration;
  • enforcement of the judgment would be contrary to public policy

Enforcement of a judgement in case no treaty applies at all

In another post on this website, Dutch lawyer with AMS has Hidde Reitsma already mentioned that even if there is no legal basis for the recognition of a judgement or a arbitral award, Dutch law on civil proceedings offers a pragmatic solution for this rest category. If there is no other option to have the judgement recognized by the court, the case can be completely redone before a Dutch court. The Dutch court may take into consideration that the parties have been litigating on this matter on the merits before, and may only apply a test of reasonableness.

Dutch law firm based in Amsterdam, specialized in recognition proceedings

AMS  is specialized in conducting proceedings on the recognition of international judgments and arbitral awards. Any related (either simple or complex) cross border matter (among which jurisdiction matters, and matters regarding the recognition and enforcement of judgments), belong to core competences of AMS’s attorneys. Dutch law firm AMS offers sharp (fixed) fees for proceedings to have a judgment declared enforceable.

Thomas van Vugt

Thomas van Vugt

Thomas specializes in contract law and media law cases. He advises, litigates and negotiates. Thomas' work style is characterised by a strong commitment to his clients, the ability to act quickly and decisively and cut through red tape. He speaks fluent English and regularly advises international clients. View his track record here. Follow Thomas on LinkedIn.

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