The debt collection process in the Netherlands
In the Netherlands, the payments are frequently made after several demands and reminders and the extrajudicial collections are the first authority in the debt collection process.
For debt collection in the Netherlands, there are usually sent several written demands for payment and collect out of court and, if the payment has not been honored, the collector can transfer this matter to a specialized agency – collection lawyers who can litigate beyond the 25,000 euro limit and can also petition a debtor’s bankruptcy.
In case of bankruptcy, the debtor receives a summons and has the obligation to respond in six weeks to this document, with the possibility of extension for another six weeks. After this process, there are sustained the oral arguments and, when the two parties can not reach an amicable agreement, the unpaid creditor can start the legal proceedings.
The average time from the issue of proceedings to judgment, if not disputed or defended, lasts about two months. A part of the legal costs can be recovered from the debtor and the amount is determined by the court.
- The first demand letter: our team will attempt the first contact with the debtor, via letters and/or phone calls.
- The payment arrangement: if the debtor is responsive, we can arrange a payment schedule, suitable for both parties.
- The second demand: of the debtor refuses the payment schedule, or if he does not comply, in most cases this will mark the end of the extrajudicial phase.
- The legal proceedings notification: the debtor needs to be informed of the fact that the creditor, through his representatives, will commence the judicial proceedings.
- Enforcement: upon obtaining an enforcement instrument for the due debt, the creditor can start the seizure of assets.
Please note that this is only a brief description of the process of debt collection in the Netherlands and the phases, although they are general ones, can vary from one case to the other. Requesting specialized aid is recommended and important especially in those situations in which the debt is a significant amount.
When a debt collection case is solved outside of court, the process of debt collection can be agreed upon with the help of arbitration, mediation and secured through a payment agreement. When the case is taken to court, the legal proceedings will end with a judgment that will still allow the debtor to comply voluntarily. If he fails to do so, then the creditor is entitled to start the execution or the enforcement of the measures. The court bailiff is the one authorized to enforce these measures and will oversee the process so that the creditor receives his claim. The bailiff, this public official who is responsible for the actual enforcement, is a participant to the process. His role includes the following:
- to serve the enforceable document to the debtor.
- to demand that the debtor complies with the obligation to perform.
- to receive the payment when the debtor makes the payment.
- to seize the assets
- to demand assistance, as needed (for example from the police) when seizing the assets.
The fees for the bailiff are fixed ones and in some cases, the debtor will need to also add these fees to the payment amount.
Foreign investors who are owed debts by a Dutch legal entity or citizen can also reach out to one of our agents for complete information on the enforcement of a foreign court decision in the Netherlands as well as collecting debts as per an enforcement order issued in another EU country
Seizure of assets in the Netherlands
A key step and one that guarantees that the creditor does recover his due debts occurs when the actual seizure of assets takes place. Movable and immovable assets can be seized, however, the two primary conditions for enforcement are to have an actual enforceable document (the court order, for example), and to serve the document, prior to commencing the enforcement, to the debtor against whom the measure is taken.
The seizure of assets or the attachment can take place for:
- Movable property: this can include furniture, some collection items, ships, vehicles, and others.
- Real estate: the creditor can attach the property owned by the debtor and this is recorded in the Land Registry.
- Shares: bearer rights, registered shares and the rights to other registered securities can be attached by the creditor.
- Others: the debtor’s rights against a third party, also known as an attachment by garnishment.
In general, the creditor can have the right to decide the assets that will be attached. However, those that concern basic necessities, such as clothing or food as well as items that are used for educational purposes or by the debtor for his work, cannot be seized. When wages are subject to attachment, only a portion thereof can be seized. The executor is allowed to attach several categories of assets at the same time, for example, movable property and real estate.
Once the enforcement procedures have begun, the debtor is no longer able to perform any actions regarding the assets that would bring prejudice to the creditor. For example, he cannot sell immovable assets and even if he were, the buyer would not be able to claim that the property belongs to him. Income that may arise from the asset, also in case of real estate that is rented, for example, is also subject to the attachment. It is important to note that the attachment of real estate becomes effective once it is registered in the Land Registry. The debtor is protected against juridical acts from the debtor once the attachment is complete.
Creditors aiming to recover debts in the Netherlands should note that the validity period for a court judgment is twenty years from the day following the one in which the order was handed down. The prescription period is five years. One of our specialists can give you more details about the validity of the enforcement measures.
Our team of debt collection lawyers in the Netherlands can assist individuals and companies looking to recover outstanding payments. Our services refer both to extrajudicial measures as well as legal representation in litigation. Our approach is focused on quick and efficient debt recovery, by attempting to negotiate a solution with the debtor that will suit the needs of both parties. When this is not possible, when the debtor is not willing to cooperate or no longer able to make the payment (like in the case of bankruptcy), our team will commence the legal proceedings that will allow the creditor to recover his due amounts within the limit of the law (the limits of assets that can be seized).
Contact our debt recovery specialists
for more information about debt collection in the Netherlands and an evaluation of your case. Together with our team, you can follow the most suitable procedure for recovering your due debts.