Like most legal systems, Dutch law provides for a system of rules which impose time limits for a civil claim to be brought. This system of statutory limitations of actions is known as verjaring and is laid down in Book 3 of the Dutch Civil Code. This means that if you leave it too long to bring a claim and the limitation period expires, you will not be able to bring that claim anymore.
Most causes of action in the Netherlands are subject to limitation periods of five (5) years, with a few types of claims having extra short (1-2 years) or extra-long (20-30 years) limitation periods.
The standard 5 year limitation period applies for:
Shorter limitation periods apply in relation to:
Longer limitation periods apply in relation to:
To determine what kind of limitation period applies, it is important for you to know what cause of action you wish to rely on (i.e. what is the legal “classification” of the claim that you want to bring?). It is also important to work out at what point in time the limitation period starts to run. This can be quite technical, so you should seek legal advice in relation to these questions.
Under Dutch law a limitation period can be suspended by an acknowledgement of the debtor, or by initiating legal proceedings or through any act of judicial recourse instituted in a legally required form or in the form agreed by the parties. An act to obtain a binding opinion can also suspend the limitation period, provided that the other party is expeditiously notified and that a binding opinion actually results. A limitation period of a right of action to claim performance of an obligation can be interrupted by a written warning.
Are you considering bringing an old claim or are you faced with an old claim? Are you unsure about whether or not it is barred by the effects of a limitation period under Duch law?
Seek advice from a Dutch lawyer.