Dutch Bankruptcy Law

An introduction

Bankruptcy in The Netherlands is governed by the Dutch Bankruptcy Act. Intra-EU cross-border insolvency proceedings are governed by Council regulation (EC) No 1346/2000 of 29 May 2000 on insolvency proceedings. Cross-border insolvency proceedings that do not fall within the scope of the EU Insolvency Regulation will be governed by the general rules of Dutch Private International Law.

The Dutch Bankruptcy Act entered into force on 1 September 1986 and has been amended several times. Three species of insolvency procedures are to be distincted in the present Netherlands Bankruptcy Act:

  • bankruptcy;
  • suspension of payments;
  • debt restructuring for private individuals.

Bankruptcy

Any debtor (being a natural person or a private legal entity) can be declared bankrupt by the District Court, as long as the debtor has the center of its (his/her) interests in the Netherlands (for natural persons, this means that they should live in The Netherlands). Applications for bankruptcy can be filed by:

  • the natural person or private legal entity itself;
  • a creditor, or
  • the public prosecutor.

Bankruptcy proceedings

If the petition is granted, the district court will declare the debtor bankrupt and appoint one or more trustees (in Dutch: curator). The trustee is charged with the administration and liquidation of the bankruptcy estate.

As a general rule, the District Court will only declare a debtor in state of bankruptcy if the debtor has ceased to pay. This is generally considered to be the case if various creditors have difficulty in collecting outstandings.

If the debtor is properly summoned, bankruptcy may be declared in a default judgment. In that case the debtor has a right to ask for a review within 14 days after the judgment of bankruptcy. Appeals must be lodged ultimately within eight days. Both review and subsequent appeals have no suspensory effect.

Suspension of payments

With the suspension of payments procedure the Dutch Bankruptcy Act intends to provide for a legal instruments in order to restructure and continue an enterprise in financial distress, which in whole or in part is viable. The suspension of payments procedure, however, rarely ever fulfilled its goal and companies that do ask for suspension of payment generally are declared bankrupt within a few weeks after the initial decision on the suspension of payments request.

Debt restructuring for private individuals

This relatively new arrangement under the Dutch Bankruptcy Act provides a possibility for private individuals in a debt position without any prospects to make a fresh start without being chased for life by his creditors. Residency in The Netherlands is a pre-requisite in order to be able to apply for this arrangement.

Further information

We are frequently consulted by clients from abroad with regard to issues related to Dutch Bankruptcy Law. Our firm's lawyers represent both applicants and defendants in bankruptcy proceedings before all Dutch Courts.

Obviously, this is a very brief introduction that will not answer your specific questions. For additional information please feel free to contact our contact person. Your comments and questions are always welcome.

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