There are several advantages to bringing your case to the Netherlands. Here’s why choosing a Dutch court makes sense.
The quality of the Dutch courts is undisputed. The Netherlands ranks third globally in the field of civil justice on the WJP Rule of Law Index 2020. Dutch courts are renowned across the world for their efficiency, reliability and transparency. As for the judicial system itself, the Netherlands has a civil law system with a pragmatic procedural code, and only knows bench trials.
The Netherlands boast surprisingly modest court fees. Court fees are determined on the basis of the size of the claim. For example, in first instance court proceedings, court fees are €4,200 for all claims exceeding €100,000. Under in appeal, court fees amount to a maximum of €5,610.
The Netherlands had two statutes that allow for class-action settlements and damages litigation that can have a binding effect throughout the world: the Dutch ‘Act on the Resolution of Mass Claims in Collective Action’ (WAMCA) and the ‘Class Action (Financial Settlement) Act’ (WCAM). A prime example is the Fortis-settlement in which an opt-out settlement was reached for an amount of €1,308,500,000 for all Fortis shareholders globally. Dutch judgements are enforceable throughout the entire European Union.
The losing litigant is only required to pay a fixed fee dependant on the financial interest, amount of procedural steps and complexity of the case. This pricing e-scale also allows for transparency regarding the costs upfront. Even in the most high-stakes multi-million euro cases, the costs for the losing litigant seldom exceed €15,000 in first instance.
The Netherlands has a court that allows for proceedings to be entirely in English: the Netherlands Commercial Court (NCC District Court and NCC Court of Appeal), a court specialised in international business disputes. The NCC can also play a role in class actions if agreed upon by all parties. But regular Dutch courts also allow exhibits to be filed in English, French or German, whereby translations are seldom required. Virtually all participants in the Dutch legal system speak English well.
The Dutch courts are renowned for their claimant friendly approach. The courts easily assume jurisdiction and, especially in cartel damages cases, there is ample room for the theory of the useful effect (Effet Util).
Over the last ten years, the Dutch courts have grown to be one of the top three jurisdictions in the European Union to litigate for cartel damages, next to Germany and the UK. Germany and the UK both have a loser-pay rule and it remains to be seen whether the UK can hold its position post Brexit.