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The Dutch government has taken several steps recently to position the Court of Rotterdam as the forum of choice for handling international maritime and transport matters.

Concentration of maritime knowledge

To improve both the quality and the attractiveness of the Dutch Court system several steps have been taken recently. On the 22nd of June 2016 the ‘Law on concentration of shipping matters at the Court of Rotterdam’ (in Dutch: Wet Concentratie Scheepvaartzaken bij de Rechtbank Rotterdam) has entered into force. Meaning that all shipping matters within the Dutch jurisdiction shall be handled by the Court of Rotterdam. The concentration of maritime cases at a single Court ensures experienced and knowledgeable judges in all maritime matters.

Litigating in English

The second step taken by the Dutch government to position the Court of Rotterdam as the forum of choice for maritime matters, was introducing the option for parties to litigate in the English language before the Court of Rotterdam in matters relating to maritime and transport matters. Meaning that, if both parties agree, the Court of Rotterdam allows proceedings to be conducted entirely in English.

No duty of general disclosure

One more reason for choosing to litigate before Dutch Courts is the fact that there is no duty of general disclosure in the Netherlands. On the other hand, if one of the parties believes the opponent or a third party has documents in its possession of which it requires copies to prove its case, then copies of such documents could be claimed in Court pursuant to Article 843a Dutch Civil Code of Proceedings. In that case this party will have to specify of which documents it is claiming copies and why it has an interest in obtaining these copies. This is to prevent a so-called ‘fishing expedition’.

Ship Arrest

The Netherlands is known to be an arrest haven, because it is considered to be much easier and  cheaper to obtain leave to arrest assets of the debtor in the Netherlands than in other jurisdictions. This includes ship arrest, which, in many cases, could be an efficient and quick way of obtaining payment of outstanding invoices or claims. When the arrest petition is filed the Dutch Courts grant leave within a couple of hours, after which the bailiff can go to the port to arrest the ship.

Conclusion

The above shows that for parties working in the maritime and shipping industry the Court of Rotterdam offers an high quality alternative for litigating in the common law jurisdictions.