This article discusses main features of arbitral legal framework in the Netherlands under the revised Dutch Arbitration Act complemented by analysis of main arbitration developments.
In the Netherlands, arbitration has traditionally been the most important form of dispute resolution along with court litigation, particularly for the resolution of construction or trade disputes. Such disputes are usually brought before the Netherlands Arbitration Institute (NAI) or the Arbitration Board for the Building Industry. The Netherlands is also renowned for the arbitration of international disputes. There are many reasons why the Netherlands is an attractive seat for international arbitrations: as the host state of many international courts and tribunals – including the International Court of Justice, the Permanent Court of Arbitration and the International Criminal Court, as well as many specialised arbitration institutions – the Netherlands offers a favourable legal and logistical environment for accommodating, administering and conducting international arbitral proceedings. The city of The Hague is to have a new hearing centre, which will be located across from the Peace Palace. A much-welcomed added benefit of seating arbitral proceedings in the Netherlands is that it has cost advantages over more expensive venues such as Paris and London.
Another important factor is that the Dutch legislature and the judiciary have a favourable attitude towards arbitration. Dutch arbitration law affords the parties considerable freedom to determine the rules of procedure, and the state courts take a liberal approach to arbitration. The state courts do act as a safety net if issues arise that parties or arbitrators are unable to resolve, yet without interfering excessively in the arbitral process. They will decline jurisdiction if a party invokes an arbitration agreement before putting forward other defences, and if the arbitration agreement is valid and applicable to the subject matter in dispute.
On 1 January 2015, a revised Arbitration Act entered into force in the Netherlands. The revision was aimed at further enhancing the efficiency and flexibility of the arbitral process by avoiding delays through state court proceedings, reducing the administrative burden and maximising party autonomy. The main features of the legal framework for arbitration in the Netherlands under the revised Dutch Arbitration Act will be discussed in this chapter. Subsequently, the most recent arbitration developments in the Netherlands will be addressed.