Bill for revision of Netherlands arbitration act tabled — what does it hold in store for international users?

By Wouter J L de Clerck

While it would be too bold to rank the Netherlands as a place of international arbitration among established seats such as France (Paris), the UK (London) and Switzerland (Geneva), particularly its parliamentary capital, The Hague, is firmly on the international arbitration map as a valid alternative seat. Home of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) since 1901, the city traditionally draws arbitrations between states and private parties and may broaden its reach with the recent establishment of the PRIME finance arbitration institute for the settlement of complex financial transactions.     

In April 2013, the Dutch government published a bill for the ‘modernisation of Netherlands arbitration law’. Among other things, the bill is intended to ensure the continued appeal of the Netherlands arbitration act (1986) to international users. In view of this ambition, some of the notable changes that are proposed will be discussed in this briefing.

First, the bill proposes to clarify the position of foreign parties who find themselves summoned to appear in a Dutch court despite what they feel is an agreement to arbitrate. A new provision will specify that the question of whether the parties agreed to arbitrate in the contractual sense is to be decided by the Dutch court according to Netherlands law if not an express choice was made for another law to apply to the arbitration agreement…

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