In the Netherlands solicitors who are entitled to perform procedural acts in court are called advocates ('advocaten'). No distinction is made between solicitors and barristers. Yet, only lawyers who are admitted to The Netherlands Bar Association and who are registered there as member of the Bar may present themselves as advocate. Other lawyers are not allowed to do so. In the Netherlands only advocates may represent parties in court and perform acts of procedure. Other lawyers are not entitled to litigate.
Advocates usually act under the name of an office. The name of my office is 'Advocatenkantoor Goossens' (meaning 'Solicitor's office Goossens'). The address of the office is Kruiskensweg 1 in Asten.
I’m specialised in litigation as well as legal consultancy. I'm the editor of the internet site of Brecht's Dutch Civil Law (DCL). On this internet site you'll find, amongst others, a translation (in English) of the Dutch Civil Code and of other Acts, including those regarding the private international law of the Netherlands. A new website has been set up regarding the private international law of the EU Member States as far as it is derived from European Regulations and multilateral International Conventions. This website is called Brecht's European Civil Law (ECL).
I'm specialised in contract law and intellectual property law. In the Netherlands it's common for an advocate to act on the field of litigation as well as on the field of legal consultancy. So do I. My clients are mainly small and medium companies from the south east of the Netherlands and foreign companies seeking legal assistance in the Netherlands.
My work includes all types of contracts, like sale contracts, general terms and conditions, supplier contracts, distribution agreements, franchising agreements, transportation agreements, employment contracts, trade agency agreements, building contracts, tenancy agreements, leases etc. My activities involve the drawing up of contracts as well as taking legal measures, including litigation by means of civil lawsuits, for example when there's a breach of contract or a dispute concerning the interpretation or performance of an agreement. Also legal questions with respect to company takeovers, joint ventures, commercial partnerships, legal persons (Ltd, foundation, association), directors and shareholders and related activities are part of my job. Furthermore it concerns intellectual property issues as copyrights, trading names, domain names, trade marks, designs and models (not patents).
My expertise is however restricted to the before-mentioned fields of law. Outside my range of skills remain for example all matters relating to criminal law, administrative law, tax law, the laws of succession and the law of personal status (name, place of residence, legal capacity, parentage and adoption) and matrimony (marriage, registered partnership, cohabitation of unmarried partners, divorce, judicial separation, maintenance obligations, matrimonial property laws).
As an advocate I am allowed to litigate in any court in the Netherlands, therefore not only in the Subdistrict Court ('kantongerecht') and District Court ('rechtbank'), but also in a Court of Appeal ('gerechtshof'), and this anywhere in the Netherlands. However, an exception has to be made where it concerns the Dutch Supreme Court ('Hoge Raad'), located at the Hague. Only advocates who are registered as such at the Bar of the Court District of the Hague may litigate before the Dutch Supreme Court.
Representation of foreign clients in the Netherlands
I also conduct legal actions for foreign companies and persons in the Netherlands and represent them in court, of course only in the field of (international) contract law en intellectual property law. In particular it concerns lawsuits and enforcements of foreign judgements. Generally I am asked to do this by solicitors or attorneys of small foreign law offices, because they themselves are not authorised to litigate or to perform these legal activities in the Netherlands. Since they're not linked to a major Dutch solicitor's office - this in contrast to big foreign law firms - they call on me to do the legal work for them in the Dutch courts. Depending on whether Dutch law or foreign law applies, the relevant declarations are made either by me or by the foreign solicitor. In the last situation my part is limited to submitting the translated declarations to the court and to perform the necessary acts of procedure. Naturally I also attend the hearing, sometimes - in small matters - without my client being present.
This way of representing foreign clients in the Netherlands works particularly well, as modern communication (Internet, e-mail, scanning papers, telephone and fax) seems to make borders disappear. As a result of the fact that more and more small and medium companies from Europe, the United States and Asia are doing business with Dutch enterprises, this form of legal representation increases rapidly. A not unimportant effect of this working method is that the legal and litigation costs remain limited, so that small and medium companies are also able to claim damages and compensation abroad, even when relatively small sums are involved. Since the Netherlands is a Member State of the European Union, various European Regulations on the field of private international law are applicable in cross-border situations involving a party from another EU Member State. Such legal proceedings have become, as a result, less complicated and can be executed within a reasonable time.
It's not permitted for Dutch advocates to work on the basis of no cure no pay. Like every advocate in the Netherlands I charge a price pro rata the time spend on a case. My hourly rate is € 200,00 (exclusive VAT).
Usually it's possible to estimate in advance the costs of my legal work. Of course the scope of these costs varies according to the nature and complexity of the case. Of influence is also how frequently I have to represent the client during a hearing, for instance during an examination of witnesses, and if a legal response is necessary on an expert report.
In general, I may say, that the costs in a small case will not exceed € 2,000 and in a more complicated case will not surpass € 5,000. Often it's less. Sometimes it's more. This might give you an indication of the costs of litigation. This estimation is related exclusively to the costs of my legal work. Other costs, such as the fee for the foreign solicitor, costs for translating evidence, court fees and such, are not included.
A 'court fee' ('griffierecht') is a sum of money which has to be paid by the parties involved in the legal proceedings. It’s indicated also as a fixed right ('vast recht'). It is not levied in criminal matters. The court fee must be paid in advance to the court where the case is in session. The court’s clerk sends an account in this respect to the advocates of the parties. If the court fee is not paid, then the case will not be heard. The called in advocate generally pays the court fee on behalf of his client and charges it afterwards to him.
The amount of the court fee varies depending on the court where the case is pending, the nature and value of the legal claim and the legal nature of the persons involved in the proceedings. In first instance all legal claims and requests have to be brought to the District Court, unless they represent a value of € 5,000 or less or result, and this irrespective of their value, from an employment agreement, a lease (tenancy) or a commercial agency contract, in which case they are dealt with by the Subdistrict Court. An appeal against a decision of the Subdistrict Court or District Court is heard by a Court of Appeal. The period allowed for appeal is usually three months. The decision of the Court of Appeal may be reviewed in cassation by the Supreme Court. The period allowed for an appeal in cassation is in principle three months as well.
The court fees for civil lawsuits are mentioned in the overview below.
In cases tried before the Subdistrict Court only the plaintiff or applicant, therefore the person who has initiated the proceedings, has to pay a court fee. No payment is required by the defendant.
In legal proceedings before the District Court both parties, the plaintiff/applicant and the defendant, each have to pay their own court fee.
An appeal against a decision, rendered in first instance by the Subdistrict Court or District Court, has to be filed with one of the five Courts of Appeal. Both parties have to pay a court fee in advance..
An appeal in cassation against a decision of a Court of Appeal may be lodged with the Supreme Court in the Hague. Both parties have to pay a court fee in advance.
It's possible to get a provisional judgement in fast summary proceedings before the provisional relief judge of the District Court or, in matters falling under the jurisdiction of the Subdistrict Court, in front of the provisional relief judge of the Subdistrict Court. Both, the plaintiff and defendant, have to pay the same court fee as in normal legal proceedings before the court involved.