In a recent decision which authorised the arrest of a vessel in four EU jurisdictions, the Amsterdam court reconfirmed that the Netherlands will not hesitate to attach assets throughout the European Union, where appropriate, under the recently revised Brussels I Regulation.
The Brussels I Regulation imposes uniform rules throughout the European Union regarding international jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of civil and commercial judgments. The revised Brussels I Regulation introduces an important change, whereby it is possible to enforce provisional measures throughout the European Union on the basis of a simple application by a party in a member state. As a result, it is possible to apply a Dutch arrest order within the European Union, provided that the Dutch courts have jurisdiction over the merits of the case – for example, where the parties involved have agreed on a jurisdiction clause appointing a Dutch court.
The recent dispute before the Amsterdam court arose from a sale and purchase agreement regarding a yacht. Although the buyer had fulfilled its obligations under the agreement, the seller refused to deliver the yacht. The case involved different international elements: the buyer and seller were Dutch and German (respectively) and the yacht was located in Croatia. The sale and purchase agreement contained a choice of jurisdiction clause referring all disputes to the Amsterdam court.
The buyer wanted the yacht to be delivered as soon as possible and filed an application for arrest with the Amsterdam court. The yacht's location was problematic: it was located in Croatia, but was expected to leave there shortly after the buyer filed the application. The buyer therefore asked the Amsterdam court to grant leave to arrest the yacht in Croatia, Italy, Greece and Cyprus, which the court did within one day. However, the Croatian authorities managed to arrest the vessel within a few days, without the Croatian courts' involvement.
The Netherlands is widely known as a ship arrest haven and this latest decision strengthens this perception by demonstrating that a Dutch arrest order could provide a solution for a creditor seeking to attach its debtor's assets throughout the European Union. Further, this case confirms that foreign authorities are prepared to carry out a Dutch arrest order. With the Amsterdam court willing to grant leave for arrest in multiple EU countries, it was once again confirmed that the Dutch courts will not hesitate to issue orders to be executed throughout the European Union. The only condition for such orders is that the Dutch courts have jurisdiction over the merits – for example, through the contractual addition of the Dutch courts as an alternative forum.
For further information on this topic please contact Robert Hoepel or Elske Torreman at AKD by telephone (+31 88 253 50 00) or email ([email protected] or [email protected]). The AKD website can be accessed at www.akd.nl.