In her last article concerning debt collection in The Netherlands, Sonia Beedie explained how you can secure your clients’ possibility to recover a claim through prejudgment seizure. After taking such a preliminary measure, a court procedure will have to be initiated usually within 14 days of seizure to ensure an enforceable title for definite collection of the claim. This procedure can be either a substantive procedure or a preliminary procedure. In cases where prejudgment seizure has not been sought-after but there is still a need for an executory title, these two types of procedures can also be initiated. There are two varieties of preliminary proceedings: the interim or provisional relief injunction, and the “normal” preliminary procedure. In this article Sonia will explain the requirements for the interim relief injunction.
Interim relief injunction for debt collection
In certain instances, a provisional relief injunction can be a very fast, effective and low-cost way to get an executory title in The Netherlands to enforce payment by a debtor. The procedure only takes a couple of weeks from subpoena to verdict. Not each case however is suitable. Some courts have court sessions for such cases on a weekly basis on the same day and time.
First of all the claim must be (reasonably) undisputed and/or it is reasonably expected that the defendant will fail to appear in court. Secondly, before the procedure can be initiated, a letter of summons must be sent to the defendant with a draft of the subpoena attached and mention of the date and time of the court hearing (which date will be requested for upfront by the attorney). If this letter does not lead to voluntary payment, the subpoena will then be served by the bailiff at least 8 days before the set date of the court hearing.
If the defendant does not appear in court, the provisional relief judge will award the claim in default, taking into account the following criteria: the subpoena must meet all formal requirements and the judge may not have any fundamental doubts with regards to the claim. If the defendant does appear but has no actual defense, the judge will award the claim as well, provided aforementioned criteria are met. This verdict will usually be available within one week after the hearing and is directly enforceable. However, if the defendant does appear and puts forward a reasoned plea against awarding the claim, the case will be referred to “normal” proceedings and a new court date will be set for a more substantive debate (more on this type of procedure in the next article).
When to choose interim relief injunction?
In conclusion, the preliminary relief judge therefor only really summarily reviews the claim and it is advisable solely in cases where there is no (known) defense. If there has been an objection to the claim, it is more sensible to initiate either a “normal” preliminary procedure or a substantive procedure for debt collection. In her next articles, Sonia will elaborate on these two (similar) ways of retrieving an enforceable verdict in The Netherlands.