Enforcement of a Court Decision in the Netherlands

Updated on Wednesday 17th April 2019

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The enforcement of a court decision in the Netherlands begins when a debtor fails to comply voluntarily with the initial judgment issued after the court procedures are finalized. The creditor is allowed to commence the execution of a judgment issued by a court in order to recover the amounts that are being owed to him by the debtor.

In the Netherlands, the procedure can commence if the creditor has a valid enforceable document, the executory title. The bailiff is the public official assigned and responsible for overseeing the enforcement action as per the executor’s request.

Matters concerning debt collection in the Netherlands can be handled with the help of our team of experts. The enforcement of a court decision can differ according to its scope, meaning that the procedure can differ when the payment of an amount is required, compared to when an asset needs to be surrendered or when the debtor is required to engage in a certain action. 
 

What is the general enforcement procedure in the Netherlands?


The enforcement procedure begins when the creditor is in possession of the enforceable document. This can be a court decision, a judgment or a ruling as well as an authentic notarial deed. Other types of documents can also be considered enforceable ones. These can be the writs of execution issued by the Dutch tax authorities, an execution issued by the Public Prosecutor Department or arbitral awards.

Once the creditor is in possession of the enforceable document, the second step is to inform the other party of the enforcement. The executory attachment can contain information about the coercive measure that is to be used if this is the case.

The role of the bailiff is central in the process. He is the one who serves the enforceable document on the debtor and he is also the one who will demand compliance with the obligation to perform, for example with the obligation to pay a certain amount. The fees for the acts performed by the bailiff are usually fixed ones. 
 

What are some of the most important issued concerning enforcement?


Apart from observing the two main conditions for enforcement (having a valid enforcement document as well as delivering this document to the party against which the action is taken), there are also other aspects to take into consideration. These can include the following:
  • assets subject to enforcement: these can include movable property, real estate, ships or aircraft.
  • the effects of enforcement: in principle, the debtor’s ability to sell assets or real estate is limited and cannot be prejudicial to the creditor.
  • the validity of the enforcement measures: in general, enforcement can be prescribed in twenty years from the date on which the judgment was issued; this period can differ.
  • the appeal against enforcement: the debtor can claim that the executor is being abusive or that the claims are disproportionate.
  • limitations: in some special cases there may be limitations on enforcement, such as debtor protection.

The District Court is the one to hear enforcement disputes in the Netherlands. This remains the competent court even in those cases when the Court of Appeal or the Supreme Court were the ones to hand down the judgment.

In general, the executor is permitted to choose the types of assets on which he will impose the attachment. One of our agents who specialize in debt collection in the Netherlands can give you more information about these issues.
 

Can foreign judgments be enforced in the Netherlands?


It is possible to enforce foreign judgments in the Netherlands. A Dutch Court will recognize and then enforce the respective judgment when it allows for proceedings similar to those applicable in the country and when it does not contravene with the Dutch public policy. 

A debt collection lawyer in the Netherlands working with our team can give you more information on the existing treaties for enforcement and the general possibilities to enforce a court decision issued in another jurisdiction. 

Enforcement is used by those claimants, creditors who have not received their due payments even through a court decision was issued in their favor for this action to take place. This is a measure that should be taken in order to force the debtor to make the necessary payment. It should always take place as directed by the Dutch laws and this is why it is recommended to work with one of our agents who specialize in debt collection in the Netherlands, especially if the claimant is a foreign entity or individual.

Contact us for complete information about how to recover a debt in the Netherlands, either through court order or through alternative dispute resolution methods such as arbitration.