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Published on: 8 May 2019

How to enforce a foreign court judgment in the Netherlands

International companies enter into contracts with people, governments, and other companies from all over the world. However, in the event of unpaid bills, the delivery of faulty items, or when there is another breach of contract, it may be necessary to obtain a judgment from a court to enforce your rights. When you want to enforce this judgment you need to find out what assets your counterparty has and where these are located. Sometimes, these assets are in a different country than the country in which the judgment was rendered.
This blog will describe in general terms how to enforce foreign judgements in the Netherlands. I will discuss that it is possible in some cases to engage a bailiff directly to enforce a foreign judgment. In other instances you will have to ask a Dutch court in a legal recognition procedure to recognize the foreign judgment before you are able to enforce a foreign judgment.

The EU, immediately enforceable

Section 2, Chapter III of the EU Execution Regulation determines that any court judgment given in a member state and which is enforceable in that member state shall be enforceable in the other member states without the need for a recognition procedure.
You can ask the court from which you have obtained the judgment for a certificate concerning a judgement in civil and commercial matters. When there is a judgment and certificate you are able to engage a bailiff immediately to collect your claim.

Judgments from non-EU countries, recognition

The Netherlands has entered into bilateral and multilateral treaties with certain countries that provide for special exceptions or regulations regarding the recognition. These exceptions can pertain to all judgments rendered in those specific countries, or they can relate to specific types of judgements (e.g. only with respect to the international recognition of a person’s marital status). Therefore, the criteria for the recognition of a foreign judgment differ based on the applicable international conventions.
Judgments from non-EU countries that do not fall under a treaty exception need to be recognized by a Dutch court as a legitimate court judgment before they can be enforced based on Dutch law. This can be obtained through a recognition procedure.

Requirements for recognition

The recognition procedure does not entail a review of the content of the judgment or its grounds. Rather, the court judgment is reviewed on formal grounds. These grounds have been made concrete in two cases before the Supreme Court of the Netherlands (the ‘Hoge Raad’) involving the (former) Russian companies Gazprombank and Yukos.
The grounds for recognition of a court judgment are that (1) the foreign court that issued the judgement has an internationally recognized basis for its competence, (2) the judgment was rendered in proceedings in which the general principles of due process were upheld, (3) recognition of the judgment is not contrary to Dutch public order, and (4) the judgment does not conflict with another, earlier decision by a Dutch or foreign court, provided that the earlier decision could be recognized in the Netherlands.

Unclear, call us!

As you can see, the norms for the recognition and execution of foreign court judgments in the Netherlands are not always 100 % clear upon first reading. If you are unsure what you can do with your foreign court judgment, please do not hesitate to call one of our experienced lawyers at +31 20 5210130 for a free initial consult, without obligations of course.

Articles by Vincent van Oosteren

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