FAQ - (frequently asked questions)

  • I was confronted with discrimination during a recruitment procedure. What can I do?

    If your application is rejected or your contract is not renewed based on a discriminatory reason (for example due to your religion, gender, pregnancy or sexual preference), you may file proceedings in a court of law. The court may rule that the other party must pay a significant settlement for this unlawful conduct. Alternatively, you may submit a complaint to the Human Rights Institute. It is recommended that you contact a legal expert in such situations.

  • I live abroad. Can I get divorced in the Netherlands?

    Whether you may file for divorce via a court of law in the Netherlands depends on your and your spouse’s place of residence and nationality. If you and your spouse both have the Dutch nationality, you may file for divorce in the Netherlands wherever in the world you reside.

    If one of you or both of you do not have the Dutch nationality, you can still get divorced in the Netherlands if you or your spouse is resident in the Netherlands.

    However, in both situations, this is subject to the condition that the divorce was not first filed in a different country. If this was the case, you cannot file for divorce in the Netherlands.

    In all other cases, with very rare exceptions, it is not possible to get divorced in the Netherlands if you live abroad. For example, if you were married in the Netherlands, you have the Dutch nationality but your spouse does not, and you both live abroad. This also applies if you both agree to file for divorce in the Netherlands.

    Finally: even if you are not permitted by law to file for divorce in the Netherlands, some issues regarding divorce, such as division and equalisation issues and/or determining maintenance may be settled in the Netherlands in some cases.

  • How about partner maintenance and child support?

    If you have insufficient funds to pay for sustenance, your ex-partner may be subject to mandatory partner maintenance or child support. This is applicable for divorce, dissolution of a registered partnership or termination of a cohabitation contract (if this sets out a clause on payment of partner maintenance or child support).

    In the first place, the sum needed for your subsistence must be determined, based on your expenditure pattern up to the divorce or end of the relationship. Key factors are your own actual or potential income and your personal wealth or assets.

    If it becomes clear that you need a supplement from partner maintenance, the ability of your ex-partner to pay this amount is assessed. Maintenance calculations are prepared in accordance with guidelines. In summary, this is based on income less certain costs. If someone is an employee, this concerns the annual salary (including bonus, 13th month and certain employee benefits). If the ex-partner is self-employed or a DGA (director and major shareholder), this concerns the salary and dividend and/or current account withdrawals. Wealth and assets sometimes play a role in this respect. Someone with a low income but significant assets may sometimes be expected to convert some of the assets into liquid assets to pay the partner maintenance. Certain expenses are deducted from the income.

    In the event of divorce, the obligation for payment of partner maintenance in principle applies for a 12-year period. If the marriage lasted less than five years, without underage children, the maintenance period is equal to the period of the marriage. After this period, the obligation to pay maintenance no longer applies. Generally, maintenance is paid on a monthly basis before the first of the month. The maintenance is automatically granted annual indexation determined by the government as per 1 January. The ex-partners may make mutual agreements on partner maintenance regarding duration and amount.

    Maintenance may be adjusted by a court of law. In the Netherlands, partner maintenance is subject to income tax imposed on the receiving party and tax deductible for the paying party.

  • What are my rights and obligations as an heir?

    As an heir, you can personally determine what to do with an inheritance (estate). You may reject it, accept it ‘as is’ or accept it as a beneficiary. Rejection means you waive any right or entitlement to both the revenue and expenses (debt) of the estate. In that event you will not receive anything, but you are also not liable for any debts or expenses.

    Accepting an estate as is means that you accept both the ensuing revenue and expenses. It means all assets and liabilities are now yours. For heirs under the age of 18, acceptance of an estate in this way is not possible by law. Please remember that certain actions (such as, in some cases, selling goods that are part of the estate) may constitute acceptance as is.

    Beneficiary acceptance means your own funds and assets are safe. Your income or wealth cannot be claimed by any creditors of the deceased. Any sums payable from the deceased’s estate will be paid only if the estate has sufficient funds. Such acceptance as a beneficiary only is generally a preferred option if the heir suspects that the liabilities exceed the assets.

    Heirs who do not reject will have to jointly accept responsibility for settlement of the inheritance in order to divide the estate.

    An executor, if appointed by will and testament, is responsible for settlement of the inheritance. The executor first prepares a description of the assets and goods, pays any sums payable and debts, and divides the remainder. The executor is responsible for further settlement and the heirs must make their claims to the executor.

  • What is my duty of care in pensions?

    As an employer, you have no obligation to offer your employees a pension scheme. However, most companies fall within the scope of a mandatory sector-wide pension fund. In that case, you have no choice: you must pay premiums to the sector pension fund (Bpf) and the employees accrue pension. You may think you have a choice, by not offering your employees a pension or you by arranging a pension via a pension provider. However, you may be confronted with a visit from a representative of the sector-wide pension fund, with a request to pay premiums into the Bpf. Prevention is better than cure: as an employer, make sure you comply if you fall within the scope of a mandatory pension fund!

    You also have a duty of care if the pension scheme is amended. If you have the pension scheme administered by a pension provider and you want to amend the pension scheme, then please remember that the Works Council has a right to approval. In the event of unilateral amendment, the usual strict labour law rules apply. You cannot simply amend a pension scheme by sending participants a letter. You have a far-reaching duty to provide your employees with the correct information regarding the pension scheme and the amendment. This is subject to liability for any pension losses resulting from incorrect or incomplete communication.

  • What should I do if the house I bought has faults?

    A home you purchased must have the properties that the buyer could expect based on the purchase agreement. The home must be suitable for normal use. In this context, what the selling party told the buyer about the home is important when concluding the agreement, and whether the buyer has surveyed the building. If the seller guaranteed that the house is suitable for normal use, the seller is liable for any faults. Often, purchasing contracts limit or exclude the seller’s liability in this respect, for example with an age clause. The seller has an obligation to report any faults that they are aware of, and that they know or should know that these may affect the buyer’s decision to buy.

    In the event of a fault, the buyer must send a complaint to the seller in due time. The buyer may then claim fulfilment of the contract or file a claim for compensation. In some cases, the purchasing contract may be dissolved or voided.

  • When are decisions of a meeting of a VvE (residents association) null and void?

    The meetings of a VvE (residents association) decide on the use and management of the shared spaces of a building. Its decisions are subject to certain rules. A decision is void if it is not in accordance with the statutory provisions, provision in the deed of division or the division articles. An example is the decision that the maintenance cost of roof dormers are charged to the individual owners, and the division articles set out that the roof dormers are part of the communal spaces. A decision is voidable if it was not made by completing the due process, if the decision is unreasonable or if it is not in accordance with the bylaws. For invoking voidability, the regular period applies and this must be submitted to the court of law. In order to have a decision voided, the case must be submitted to a district court within one month; please be aware of this short qualification period.

  • When can the lease price for commercial space be adjusted?

    To answer this question, we distinguish between commercial space within the scope of Section 7:230a of the Dutch Civil Code (office space) and commercial space within the scope of Section 7:290 of the Dutch Civil Code (shop, crafts studio and catering business). For the commercial space under 7:230a, the lessee has hardly any statutory lease protection. The option of a lease price adjustment is therefore fully dependent on the relevant agreements in the lease contract. For the commercial space under 7:290, the lessee and the lessor may turn to the district court to adjust the lease price if this is not in line with the lease prices of similar local spaces. If the lease contract was concluded for a certain term, the adjustment may not be claimed until that term has expired. In other cases, this is not possible until five years after the last adjustment of the lease price.

  • Can replacement residential space and relocation costs be claimed for renovation?

    There is no statutory obligation to offer replacement residential space. However Section 7:220 Paragraph 5 of the Dutch Civil Code sets out that the lessee must contribute to the cost of the relocation if the relocation is necessary due to the renovation works. For independent residential space, the statutory contribution amounts to €5,910. The Court of Appeal in The Hague (ECLI:NL:GHDHA:2016:2794) recently stressed that in the event of renovation of a home, it is often not necessary to relocate. The single fact that a lessee would like to have temporary alternative accommodation due to noise is not sufficient reason. If the lessee is unable to use the kitchen or toilet for a few days during the renovation works, the Court of Appeal ruled that the lessee must accept this. However, health reasons may be a good reason. For example, a lessee with severe asthma could be successful in requesting relocation to temporary accommodation, where other lessees are not.

  • Can intermediate termination of a temporary lease contract for residential space be granted?

    Yes, this is possible, but only in certain cases. Section 7:271 Paragraph 1 of the Dutch Civil Code sets out that intermediate termination is permitted for the lessee (NOT the lessor) in the event of a lease contract for independent residential space for a maximum of two years. In the event of renting a room, this can be permitted for a lease contract for a maximum of five years. Derogation to the lessee’s detriment is not permitted. This is not always favourable for lessors, which is why some lessors use a contract based on an indefinite period, subject to a minimum term (for example one or two years). The model contract 2017, prepared by the ROZ (the Property Council), provides this option. No jurisprudence is available on this issue. For the time being, a contract with an indefinite period of time and a minimum term seems a good solution for lessors to prevent intermediate cancellation.

  • When can I join a group claim?

    If a group of persons has incurred losses, it is possible in some cases to have the group take action against the party that caused the losses. A foundation or association specifically established for that purpose can represent the full group. This means that claimants do not need to start individual procedures. Instead, a claim can be submitted to the court of law in a single large case for all parties. Alternatively, the foundation may settle with the party causing the losses. The court of law can declare a compulsory extension applicable to all persons concerned. This way of group settlement of losses incurred by many people is unique to the Netherlands, which is why some foreign parties come to the Netherlands to settle a claim.

    The benefit of class action is that the legal costs can be shared by the group members and that the group is presented as one unit – together you are stronger. Well-published examples of group claims include profiteering policies, shares leasing and the VW diesel scandal.

  • What should I do in the event of a medical error?

    Errors made by medical professionals can lead to injuries and losses. To demonstrate the loss, you must be able to prove that the medical professional has not acted with due care in your treatment. It is difficult to provide such proof in most cases; lack of due care must be proved. This is why it is important in such cases to seek assistance from experts such as specialised loss and injury solicitors. Such a solicitor can help you in the process of claiming losses in consultation with a medical expert. If a settlement for such losses cannot be reached with the medical professional, you can submit a complaint to the Medical Board, and you may decide to submit a claim to the district court.

  • What should I do in the event of an accident at work?

    If you are the victim of an occupational accident, this may have consequences for your occupational capacity and you may also incur losses due to missing future income. In order to recover losses it is important to compile a solid medical case file, based on which a medical adviser can determine your specific impairments caused by the accident. If a settlement for such losses cannot be reached with the employer, you can submit a claim to the district court.

  • When am I personally liable as a director?

    In principle, a legal entity is liable for its contracts and actions, and a director is not. A legal entity cannot physically complete certain actions; this is what a board of directors is appointed to do. A director must fulfil their management tasks ‘with due care’. If a director fails to do so, they may be held liable on a personal basis. However, as a rule, a director has no private liability for the obligations and debts of the company.

    The bar to hold the director personally liable is very high. This must be based on a severe personal attributability, which depends on the specific circumstances. This may be the case if the director concludes a contract that they know the company cannot fulfil, or put their own interests above those of the company.

    Also, in the case where the company is declared bankrupt a director risks personal liability. For example, if the director has not lodged the annual financial statements in due time, or if the accounts are not in order.

  • What is a creditor agreement?

    If a person or company is no longer able to pay all their lenders or creditors, the option of an agreement with the creditors is beneficial to the debtor. A creditor agreement is a contract concluded between the debtor and all the creditors. This agreement pays for some part or a percentage of each debt, and the debtor receives a final discharge for the remaining amount due. The debtor can make a new start and the creditors receive their payments immediately. If the contract is accepted by the majority of creditors, the agreement is applicable to all creditors, even to those who did not agree with the proposal.