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Recognition of an EU Court Decision in Holland

Recognition of an EU Court Decision in Holland

The recognition of an EU court decision in the Netherlands is subject to the direct regulations of the EU legislation as a result of the country being a member state. While there is no need for special legislation for the implementation procedure, it is worth noting that there are several legal resources relevant to the enforcement of foreign judgments, presented in more detail below by our team of agents who specialize in debt collection in the Netherlands.

The main purpose of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) is to interpret and overview the application of the law in the same way for each country member of the European Union. This authority enables companies, individuals and organizations to bring cases in front of the Court whenever an EU institution infringes their rights. 

The European Court of Justice has its seat in Luxemburg and, since their establishment, there were more than 15 000 judgments to be delivered by this authority.

The Court’s tasks are set out in Article no. 220-245 of the EU Treaty, as well as his own status. These are to ensure uniform interpretation of European legislation.

In 1989, to ease the work of this authority, there was established The First Instance of Justice and then, in 2004 another court to have in charge the matters concerning civil servants: servants of the European Union Court. Since then, the CJEU jurisdiction targets only the reviews submitted by individuals and businesses against the decisions of the European Court of Justice of First Instance. More recently, however, with few exceptions, the CJEU responds and records of the proceedings at first instance made by the Member States against the European Commission.

Holland has one judge in charge of the Court of Justice of the European Union, as every country member of the EU.

What are the international laws and conventions applicable to enforcing foreign judgments?

Some of the relevant EU laws that ate applicable for the enforcement of judgments in the Netherlands are the following:

  • The Brussels I Regulation (Recast): this is the main one that describes the mutual enforcement and recognition of judgments across member states.
  • The Brussels Convention: this is the predecessor of Brussels I regulation and it applies to the recognition and enforcement of judgments for civil and commercial matters.
  • The EU Enforcement Order: a judge from the country that issued the order can certify it as a European enforcement order for uncontested claims.
  • The EU Regulations 2015/2421: modifies the small claims procedure and the order for payment procedure and it simplifies cross-border disputes.
  • International conventions: these are other conventions that are also relevant for the enforcement of foreign court decisions in the Netherlands; the Lugano Convention is included here.

Apart from the relevant EU laws and the international conventions to which it is a part of, the Netherlands has also signed a number of bilateral treaties for the mutual recognition of foreign judgments. Some of these are signed with Belgium Italy, Germany, Austria or the United Kingdom. 

Are recognition and enforcement inseparable?

In practice, recognition can be a prerequisite for enforcement. However, these two procedures are distinct legal steps and not all recognized judgments are enforced. For the purpose of debt collection, the sole recognition will not be enough for the purpose of collecting the debt and the creditor will need to seek enforcement from the Dutch courts. This is because the debtor is required to perform a specific action, such as making a payment or transferring the ownership to the creditor.

The ease with which a court decision can be enforced can depend on the applicable legal framework, the matter of the enforcement as well as the debtor’s defenses. 

As far as debt collection in the Netherlands is concerned, one of our specialists can help analyze your case and determine the manner in which the enforcement procedure can commence and the ease of the procedure. 

What are the main requirements for enforcing foreign judgments in the Netherlands?

The party that wishes to enforce a foreign judgment in the Netherlands, that is a judgment issued in another member state or an EU court decision, must present the following documents to the local Dutch court and/or authorities:

  • a copy of the issued judgment (a certified copy is usually required).
  • a certificate that states the enforceable nature of the judgment and contains relevant details, for example, information on the recoverable costs for the proceedings.

In general, there is no pre-determined timeframe for granting recognition and enforcement. In some situations, a judgment that is issued in another EU member state can be both recognized and enforced without any other mandatory proceedings. 

For judgments rendered in a state that is part of a treaty, such as the Lugano Convention, the requirements for the mandatory documents may differ, however, in principle the two mentioned above will remain (a certified judgment copy and the declaration of enforceability). 

A limitation period can apply for the enforcement of a foreign judgment and this timeframe can be of twenty years. The foreign statute of limitations has no implications on how a foreign judgment is recognized and enforced in the Netherlands.

What are some of the procedures handled by the European Court of Justice?

Eight advocates-general work for the Court and their job is to present opinions on the cases brought before the Court. This procedure must be public and impartial.

Each judge and advocate-general, which are agreed by the Government, have a six-year term, with the possibility of renewal.

There are several types of cases the Court can compel with, but the most common are:

  • Requesting for a preliminary ruling: procedure initiated by the national court asking the European Court of Justice to interpret the EU law;
  • Actions for failure to fulfill an obligation: in this case, the government is accused of not applying the EU law;
  • Actions for annulment: when the applicant requests the annulment of an act of an institution, body, office or agency of the Union, on the reason of violation the EU treaties or fundamental rights;
  • Actions for failure to act: in this case, the Court verifies the legality of inaction institutions, organ or agency of the Union. The institution that violates the law must immediately put an end to the failure by appropriate measures;
  • Direct actions initiated by individuals, companies or organizations against EU decisions or actions.

As a significant feature of the Court of Justice of the European Union or the Community judicial act, recognized in any state member, including Holland, may be mentioned the following:

  • CJEU controls both the legality of Community acts and administrative affairs of the Community institutions, thus overseeing both the legislature and the executive community.
  • CJEU can resolve both disputes between bodies, between organs and the Member States and between the Member States and natural or legal persons and between individuals, or between businesses.
  • CJEU is a mandatory competence and parties to the dispute are unable to deny the jurisdiction of the Court, except in a few limited cases provided.
  • The Court’s rulings are final and enforceable within the boundaries of Community scattered even exequatur or other approval from the state on whose territory it is to be enforced.
  • CJEU is empowered to adjudicate including monetary penalties against any party acting, or to modify any penalty imposed against any litigant, or to modify any penalty imposed administratively established by other Community bodies, especially those imposed by the Commission, if the amount is disputed the fined.
  • In some cases, the CJEU intervenes in the ratification of treaties under international law concluded by the Community bodies are required to consult with it before signing such treaties.
  • CJEU generally has exclusive jurisdiction because under Article 292 of the EC Treaty Member States are obliged expressly disputes concerning the application and interpretation of Community law is not regulated in a different manner to that provided for in the Treaty. 
  • Supreme courts of the Member States in the EU (and even the national courts of the last instance) are obliged to request the CJEU opinion whenever questions arise in this regard.

Creditors should remember as a general guideline that judgments rendered in another EU member state are automatically recognized and enforced in the Netherlands as per the Brussels I Regulation (Recast).

Our team of debt collection lawyers can detail on these relevant legal resources as well as provide adequate legal counseling as per the course of action whenever creditors need to enforce in the Netherlands an EU court decision. The decisions regarding the recognition and the enforcement of judgments can be subject to appeal. Contact us for more information on the enforcement of an EU court decision in Holland.