Doing business in the Netherlands

Culture and language

So close, and yet so far: cultural differences with neighbouring countries are often underestimated and are the cause of many projects falling through. However, many of the misunderstandings between German and Dutch business partners can be easily avoided.

If you familiarise yourself with how Dutch businesspeople do business, your step across the border will become much easier. The German-speaking attorneys at the Boels Zanders firm’s German Desk will be happy to help you with your questions about doing business in the Netherlands.

Legal system

German law and Dutch law have the same foundation: Roman law. However, this does not alter the fact that there are significant differences between German and Dutch law. German law is more systematic and detailed than Dutch law. The well-known concept of ‘reasonableness and fairness’, which is often applied by the Dutch courts, is generally absent in German law. Other notable features include the following:

    • German law is debtor-friendly, while Dutch law is creditor-friendly.
    • German law is often more favourable to a principal, while Dutch law is likely to be more attractive to the agent in an agency contract.
    • Consumers are better protected under German law.
    • Employees are better protected under Dutch law.
    • German data protection law is more complex than Dutch data protection law.
    • A German trustee in bankruptcy has more extensive powers than a Dutch trustee to recover payments from creditors.
    • Directors are more likely to be liable and punishable under German law than under Dutch law.
    • Limitation periods in Germany are normally shorter than in the Netherlands.
    • In Germany, contracts in business transactions are concluded differently from those in the Netherlands: people are bound by a contract more readily.
    • Obligations to investigate and obligations to complain in German law are very short and strict and play a far more limited role in Dutch law.
    • German agency law is more complex than Dutch agency law.
    • Dutch and German law have different security rights.

In short, it is important to be well informed about the differences.

Our team will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have.

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