Netherlands Commercial Court: NCC District Court and NCC Court of Appeal
The Senate Justice and Security Committee will take up the proposed legislation for the NCC District Court and the NCC Court of Appeal in September 2018. Under the proposed legislation, the NCC District Court and the NCC Court of Appeal will be a division (“chamber”) within the Amsterdam District Court and the Amsterdam Court of Appeal, respectively. They will be based in Amsterdam at the Palace of Justice, which is also home to the Amsterdam Court of Appeal.
The NCC District Court and the NCC Court of Appeal will each have a President, responsible for such matters as general operations and administration, and assignment of cases in accordance with the applicable rules; Judges, who will sit in panels of three to deal with cases; and a dedicated legal and administrative staff. The Judges will be drawn from a nationwide pool of experienced specialist district and appellate judges, who will work on a broad range of civil litigation when not occupied with NCC business.
As a subdivision of the NCC District Court, the NCC Court in Summary Proceedings (CSP) will be a single judge, drawn from the NCC District Court Judges, who will deal with certain matters requiring an expedited procedure and decision, such as interim measures.
Appeals may be lodged with the NCC Court of Appeal against, as a rule, all final judgments issued by the NCC District Court. Like the NCC District Court, the NCC Court of Appeal will have authority to issue orders for evidentiary hearings or other fact-finding work, or to appoint experts, as needed. The NCC Court of Appeal will also have authority to hear claims to set aside an arbitration award. Final judgments by the NCC Court of Appeal may, as a rule, be appealed to the Supreme Court on matters of law or errors of procedure.
Cases will be dealt with by these specialist chambers based on agreement by the parties, either prior to their dispute or after the dispute has arisen. Their workload may include a broad range of business disputes, such as mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures and commercial contracts. Given the complex procedural environment in these disputes, in the NCC District Court a single judge will typically be assigned to manage each case for its duration and deal with interim steps. It is anticipated that this judge’s involvement and active communication with counsel may be of great assistance in clarifying issues, moving cases forward and facilitating a settlement or other just and speedy resolution.
Proceedings in the NCC District Court and the NCC Court of Appeal will be in English, except in certain special cases. Only lawyers admitted to the Dutch Bar will be allowed to file documents, but lawyers from around the globe may participate in litigation and speak at hearings, where necessary in compliance with EU or other rules on cooperation with local counsel.
A special electronic communication system (eNCC) is close to completion. Featuring a web portal with secure access through the NCC site (www.ncc.gov.nl), eNCC will allow Dutch counsel to initiate an action, check the status and scheduled next steps, submit documents, and download documents such as submissions by any party, or correspondence or decisions from the court.
The NCC Rules, in authentic English and Dutch versions (www.ncc.gov.nl), outline the main procedure and practice rules in cases in the NCC District Court and the NCC Court of Appeal. These Rules reflect global best practices (such as the IBA Rules) and incorporate many Civil Procedure Code provisions, to create a baseline that judges, lawyers and parties can easily refer to. The Annexes provide:
- explanatory notes;
- standard language for a choice of court clause and agreement for proceedings to be in English before the NCC;
- basic information on what lawyers’ fees a successful party may generally recover from the unsuccessful party;
- a glossary of terms; and
- guidance on the web portal (eNCC Rules).
In addition, an English translation of selected sections of the Civil Procedure Code has been prepared and is scheduled for publication in 2018.
In sum, the stage is set and the NCC District Court and the NCC Court of Appeal are ready to open for business. The outcome of the legislative process is eagerly anticipated.