Legal Environment

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In this page: Business Contract | Intellectual Property | Legal Framework of Business | International Dispute Resolution


Business Contract

General Observation
You must state precisely the obligations of the vendor and the methods of quality control.
Law Applicable to the Contract
You do not have to be particularly vigilant about the law applicable to the contract and the methods of conflict resolution. Indeed, the Netherlands is a signatory to the Vienna Convention on International Contracts.
Advisable Incoterms
Choose FOB or CIF, or more. Avoid EXW if you do not want to be involved in organizing domestic transport in the Netherlands, as this is quite a complex operation.
Language of Domestic Contract
Dutch, English
Other Laws Which Can Be Used in Domestic Contracts
The laws and courts of America, England and Switzerland provide fair justice and are understandable in English, which is likely to be accepted by your Dutch supplier.

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Intellectual Property

National Organisations
The NL Agency is the agency for companies in the Netherlands
Regional Organisations
Industrial Property Office, Copyright Office
International Membership
Member of the WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization)
Signatory to the Paris Convention For the Protection of Intellectual Property
Membership to the TRIPS agreement - Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS)

National Regulation and International Agreements

Type of property and law Validity International Agreements Signed
Patents Act of the Kingdom 1995
10 years, renewable for further 10-year periods Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT)
Office of Harmonisation for the Internal Market
10 years, renewable for further 10-year periods Trademark Law Treaty
Protocol Relating to the Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Marks
Office of Harmonisation for the Internal Market
It initially has a life of five years from the filing date and can be renewed in blocks of five years up to a maximum of 25 years, whereas the UCD grants a right of three years from the date of the first disclosure that must take place within EU territory.  
70 years, but varies a lot depending on the type of product Berne convention For the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works
Convention for the Protection of Producers of Phonograms Against Unauthorized Duplication of Their Phonograms
Rome ConventionFor the Protection of Performers, Producers of Phonograms and Broadcasting Organizations
WIPO Copyright Treaty
WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty
Industrial Models
Industrial Property
A minimum of 5 and a maximum of 25  

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Legal Framework of Business

Equity of Judgments

Equal Treatment of Nationals and Foreigners
Foreigners can expect an impartial trial from the country’s judicial system.
The Language of Justice
Dutch and Frisian.
Recourse to an Interpreter
Yes, but no guidelines exist to ensure effective communication between judges, lawyers, and non Dutch / Frisian speaking defendants.
Legal Similarities
Based on the civil law system incorporating French penal theory. The Netherlands accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction but with reservations. Holland being a member of the European Union, the national law in the country has needs to comply with the conditions of the Community legislation.

The Different Legal Codes

Civil Law (including family law, inheritance law, contract law and commercial law) Het Burgelijk Wetboek
Criminal Law Het Wetboek van Strafrecht
Constitutional Law (including laws on the structure of the state) Constitution of the Netherlands
Administrative Law Algemene Wet Bestuursrecht
Other Useful Resources
Dutch Legal Links
Country Guides
Guide to the Dutch judiciary system

The Jurisdictions

The Supreme Court Merely views whether the (Dutch) law has been applied properly
The Council for the Judiciary The Council’s tasks relate to operational matters, budgetary matters and the qualitative aspects of the administration of justice.
The Central Appeals Tribunal Is a board of appeal which is mainly active in legal areas pertaining to social security and the civil service. In these areas it is the highest judicial authority.
Five Courts of Appeal The justices of the Court of Appeal only deal with cases where an appeal has been lodged against the judgment passed by the district court. In addition to criminal and civil cases, the Court of Appeal also deals with all appeals against tax assessments, in its capacity as administrative court.
Nineteen District Courts Made up of a maximum of five sectors: the administrative sector, civil sector, criminal sector and sub-district sector.

Court Officials

The Netherlands Bar Association (BAR)
Netherlands Bar Association (the Bar) is the public-law professional body for all advocates in the Netherlands.

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International Dispute Resolution

Recognized under Dutch law as a legitimate method for settling disputes.
Arbitration Law
Can be found on the website Nederlands Arbitrage Instituut (in Dutch).
Conformity to International Commercial Arbitration Rules
Party to the New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards.
Party to the Geneva Protocol on Arbitration Clauses.
Party to the Geneva Convention of the Execution of Foreign Arbitral Awards.
Appointment of Arbitrators
One (or three) arbitrators are assigned, the compensation depends on the type of case (what industry / amount etc.)
Arbitration Procedure
The prosecutor file is demanded in written and the defendant replies to it. A second is optional. After that a hearing is organized where both parties have the ability to clarify their side of the story. After that the arbitrators make a decision and put it on appear and send it to the persecutor and the defendant.

The result is binding in most cases. In some cases an appeal can be made at another arbitrage comity. Another option is to go to court and ask them to undo the made decision.

Permanent Arbitration Bodies
Committee of Arbitrage (Sectors Covered: General)
The Netherlands Institute for Arbitrage (Sectors Covered: General)
TMC Asser Institute (Sectors Covered: General)

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Latest Update: April 2024