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What costs can you expect if you want to take legal action in the Netherlands?


Unfortunately, being in the right is often rather different from getting the law on your side. In most cases, you will need to take legal action to get the law on your side, which can be expensive. It is not always possible to determine in advance exactly how expensive it will be or how significant the litigation risk is, and this will often deter private individuals in particular. Nevertheless, it is possible to make a reasonable estimate. In this blog, Dutch litigation lawyer Thomas van Vugt will answer the question as to how expensive taking legal action in the Netherlands really is.

Lawyer’s fees and attorney’s fees in the Netherlands

In the Netherlands, it is not mandatory to engage a lawyer in proceedings before the subdistrict court. However, it is often wise to hire a lawyer or attorney because of the legal complexity of the case. In other proceedings before the courts or tribunals, however, it is mandatory to engage a lawyer. The fees of Dutch lawyers will vary. Different lawyers charge different hourly fees, but even more important is the question as to how much time the lawyer will spend on a case. If at all possible, and if the case lends itself for this, the lawyers at AMS Advocaten will always give an estimate in advance of the time they expect to spend on conducting legal proceedings.

Don’t forget the court fees!

Other costs to be taken into account are the court fees. These are the fees that you, as the claimant and defendant, have to pay to the court. The amount of the court fees will depend on the interests in the case. It will also make a difference whether the party to the proceedings is a natural person or a legal entity. The greater the interests in the case, the higher the court fees. In 2018, the court fees were fixed at a minimum of € 79 and a maximum of € 3,946 (maximum € 5,270 on appeal).

Bailiff’s fees in the Netherlands for claimants

In summons proceedings, in contrast to application proceedings, the Dutch bailiff must summon the defendant to appear at the hearing by bailiffs’ notification. This notification is called a summons. The bailiff’s costs for this must in principle be paid by the claimant. As from 1 January 2018, these summons costs are € 98.01 including VAT.

Compensation of legal costs on winning a case

If you, as the claimant, win the case, costs will usually be awarded against the losing party. As a rule, in the Netherlands, the winning party’s full court fees and bailiff’s fees will be awarded against the losing party. Often there will also be an order to pay lawyers’ fees, but not the full fees. The lawyer’s fees are capped at a fixed rate. My colleague Onno Hennis explains this in more detail in this article.

Litigation risk: the claimant may lose the case

The downside of the order to pay the costs as discussed above is that the claimant may also lose the case. This may mean that you not only have to pay your own costs, but also a compensation for the costs that the other party had to incur to be able to put up a defence (lawyer’s fees and court fees).

Litigation lawyer in Amsterdam

In view of the above, the costs of litigation and the litigation risk, it is essential that before proceedings are initiated not only the chances of success but also the costs of conducting the proceedings are considered. The litigation risk must also be assessed and compared with the interests of the case. After all, the costs of getting the law on your side must be in proportion.

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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