The Netherlands Commercial Court (“NCC”) is up and running. After its first hearing on 18 February 2019, the NCC delivered its first judgment today. The NCC opened its doors on 1 January 2019. For more information on the legislation establishing the NCC, see our previous blog.
The NCC deals with international civil and commercial disputes, such as corporate matters, contractual issues, and tort disputes. Proceedings are conducted in English, making the Dutch court system more accessible to international parties. In addition, foreign lawyers registered at an EEA Member State or the Switzerland Bar can litigate before the NCC, provided they work in conjunction with a member of the Dutch Bar. Parties may only litigate before the NCC if they explicitly agree to do so.
As of 1 January 2019, the NCC legislation took effect. Five weeks later, on 11 February 2019, the first application was submitted to the NCC. In that application Elavon Financial Services DAC, an Ireland-based company, sought an order under article 3:251 of the Dutch Civil code, requesting the judge for permission to sell pledged shares. In today’s judgment, the NCC granted permission for these shares to be sold and transferred. With this first judgment the NCC demonstrates it is able to fulfil its promise “to provide swift and firm guidance in complex litigation”.
Referral to the NCC
Parties who have instituted proceedings before another Dutch court can request a referral to the NCC. If the parties concerned have expressly agreed in writing that proceedings will be in English before the NCC, and meet several other requirements (see the NCC website for more information), the parties can submit a motion to the court where the case is already pending. The competence of that court can then be challenged under the choice-of-court clause, after which the court may refer the case to the Amsterdam District Court for further proceedings and judgment by the NCC. Such referral is binding on the NCC.