Third-party proceedings

Adding as a third party

Third-party proceedings are special proceedings that run parallel to principal proceedings. They include the power of a defendant to involve a third party in legal proceedings that are already pending. This is called “adding as a third party”. The objective is to directly recover the damage from the added third party in case of a judgment.

Claiming compensation

Damage is the reason for the major part of all civil proceedings. Someone has suffered damage and claims compensation from the person who is liable for this damage (the debtor). If the liability of the debtor is established, he will in principle be ordered to compensate the injured party for the damage.

Transfer of damage to a third party

The debtor may sometimes be able to transfer the damage to another party, for example to an insurance company with which he has insured himself against the damage. But also if the damage was actually caused by someone else, for example by a subcontractor who has made a mistake for which the principal contractor is liable (in respect of the client). Or if the debtor has done or omitted to do something (which has resulted in damage) following an incorrect advice given by an expert.

Adding a third party as a third party

In such case, the debtor has two options. He can initiate separate proceedings against the third party in question after the principal proceedings. Or his lawyer can rely on third-party proceedings during the principal proceedings. This reliance on third-party proceedings is initiated by making an interim application. This interim application has to be made immediately after the debtor himself is summoned to appear (before he puts up a defence). A motion to add a third party cannot be brought later on in the proceedings or on appeal.

Lawyer for a motion to add a third party

If the motion to summon a third party to appear has properly been drawn up, the court will usually grant it. No appeal is possible against a rejection. If adding a third party is allowed, the debtor has to summon the third party to appear by means of a summons. Two separate proceedings will then commence: the principal proceedings and the third-party proceedings. Because of their connexity, they are often dealt with jointly.

Claim in third-party proceedings rejected in case of dismissal in the principal proceedings

If the debtor is held liable in the principal proceedings, the liability of the third party that was added as a third party is also assessed. If the claim against the debtor in the principal proceedings is rejected, the claim in the third-party proceedings will of course also be rejected.