In September 2014 the Chairman of the Judiciary expressed its ambition to establish a Netherlands Commercial Court (NCC) to provide a special court designed to deal with large international disputes. This ambition resulted in a final plan, which was published in November 2015. The aim is to have a fully operational NCC by 1 January 2017.
The NCC will be housed in the Amsterdam District Court and any appeals will be heard in the Amsterdam Court of Appeal. It will focus primarily on major international commercial disputes submitted by parties pursuant to a contract or a subsequent agreement. Nonetheless Dutch parties can also choose to bring a commercial dispute without international character before the NCC.
Positive effects of the NCC
The Judiciary expects the establishment of the NCC to have a positive impact on litigants and on the legal system in general. The NCC will be a special facility with dedicated judges who have the necessary expertise and experience in large commercial disputes. These judges can share their knowledge to ensure the quality of justice is promoted and complex cases can be handled more efficiently. Research carried out by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) also showed that having a dedicated court like the NCC in the Netherlands would benefit potential users, by making such procedures more effective and efficient and ultimately less costly. In addition, the NCC can provide more customization and transparency in international practice.
The NCC will also offer users the opportunity to litigate in English. This fits well with international practice and can save time and translation costs. It should also facilitate smooth communication between foreign parties.
In a letter dated 23 November 2015, the Minister of Security and Justice indicated to the house that he remains positive about the NCC proposal and stressed that it is not intended that the cost of handling cases by the NCC be borne by the Judiciary. The establishment of the NCC should not be provided at the expense of other civil cases. On the contrary, it is intended that these other cases will benefit from the NCC because of the separate treatment of major trade disputes, which frees up more time for other disputes. According to the Minister, companies bringing cases before the NCC will be expected to pay the costs for using this service. Given that the court will deal with large commercial disputes, the NCC costs are likely to be small in comparison to the overall legal fees incurred. However, it is possible for those companies that cannot afford the NCC fees to apply to the court to waive the costs in full or in part. Therefore, the NCC is also attractive for small or start-up companies involved in contract disputes with large international companies.
The Minister has made a commitment that the government will come up with a bill in mid-2016 to regulate the use of the English language and funding.