How long does it take for a court to pronounce judgment in the Netherlands?

The procedural lawyers of AMS Advocaten in Amsterdam and Naarden regularly publish articles on court case proceedings. For instance, we previously dedicated a blog on this website to the cost of court cases in the Netherlands and whether the counterparty is obliged to pay the lawyer’s fees if you win a case in this country. In the article below, Dutch procedural lawyer Robert van Ewijk explains how long it takes for court to pronounce judgment.

When does a court pronounce judgment in the Netherlands?

How long it takes before you get a judgment in legal proceedings in the Netherlands depends on many factors. Naturally, the substantive debate about the claim under consideration must first be concluded. In some cases, this takes a few weeks (for example in interlocutory proceedings), but in cases involving multiple procedures in writing, such as statements of reply and rejoinder, in which witnesses have to be heard or experts are appointed, this can take a very long time. Whereas the substantive debate in simple proceedings before a sub-district court can last up to about six months, this can take up to two years in more complex cases that are brought before a district court. However, this does not mean that the court immediately pronounces judgment.

Judge sets a date for pronouncing judgment

Once the substantive debate is concluded, the judge sets a date on which he intends to pronounce judgment. He will typically note that this is a target date, and that the pronouncing of judgment may be postponed. Courts refer to this as ‘deferment’. These days, it is increasingly common for the judiciary to resort to the possibility of deferring judgment. The East-Brabant district court recently complained about the situation in interlocutory proceedings, in which it stated:

Due to the multitude of cases under consideration, the ensuing workload and a poorly staffed judicial organisation, the judge in interlocutory proceedings and his staff – in spite of their efforts and unpaid overtime – were not able to reach judgment by the intended judgment date (17 December 2018) (…)

Experience shows that cases awaiting judgment are frequently deferred twice or even three times for a period of 4 weeks (in subdistrict court cases) or 6 weeks (in district court cases)

How long do legal proceedings take in the Netherlands?

How long legal proceedings take in the Netherlands therefore depends on many factors. In simple interim proceedings, judgment is often already pronounced within a matter of weeks, whereas this can take up to two years or more in complex cases. It is not possible to give an average or benchmark. It all depends on the nature and complexity of the case.

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