Enforcement of a Dutch arbitration award is easy!

More and more parties in the Netherlands are deciding to settle their disputes through arbitration rather than taking their disputes to court. Procedural Law Lawyer Onno Hennis explains why, and illustrates this by reference to a recent decision of the Court of Rotterdam.

Advantages of arbitration

The reasons for not taking a dispute to court but settling by arbitration include the specific expertise of the arbitrators, the confidentiality of the proceedings, and more freedom to shape the proceedings. Arbitral awards are easily enforceable in the Netherlands. The effectiveness of this alternative method of dispute resolution is therefore guaranteed.

Exequatur by arbitration on assets in the Netherlands

The enforcement of an arbitration award on assets The assets of a Dutch company reflect the value of all that the company possesses
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situated in the Netherlands requires leave from a Dutch court. Such leave is called an ‘exequatur.’

Arbitration in and outside the Netherlands

For the granting of an exequatur for enforcing an arbitration award, it is relevant whether the arbitration has taken place in or outside the Netherlands. For example, the court has jurisdiction over arbitration awards made abroad, whereas in the case of national arbitrations the application for an exequatur must be submitted to the provisional relief court. Furthermore, the rules of the New York Convention (or any other applicable convention) also apply to the enforcement of foreign arbitral awards. The above judgement concerned proceedings where the place of arbitration was in the Netherlands.

Plausible that arbitration award will be annulled?

The law stipulates that a court may only refuse the exequatur if, after summary examination, it appears to the court that it is plausible that the arbitral award will be annulled on the basis of one of the grounds listed exhaustively in the law. The grounds for annulment are: the absence of a valid arbitration agreement, the incorrect composition of the arbitral tribunal, the arbitral tribunal having acted outside its mandate, the award not having been signed or substantiated, or the award or the manner in which it was made is contrary to public policy.

Period for annulment after making arbitration award expired?

If three months have elapsed after the arbitral award has been made, the Dutch court may only refuse the exequatur if the award or the manner in which it was made is manifestly incompatible with public policy. For example, there is a case of incompatibility with public policy when the basic principles of procedural law, such as the right to a fair hearing, have been infringed.

Ex parte decision: Court grants leave

In the judgement above, the provisional relief court in the Netherlands decided to grant the application for leave without the defendant having been heard on the application or given an opportunity to defend himself against the application. The provisional relief court based its decision on Article 279 of the Dutch Code of Civil Procedure, which stipulates that if the court grants the application without delay, there is no need to order that the case must be heard.

Dutch lawyer assisting in enforcement of arbitration award

Do you wish to enforce a Dutch or foreign arbitration award? We can initiate the application for exequatur on your behalf. After the exequatur has been granted, you can take enforcement measures against the judgment debtor.