The Netherlands Commercial Court and COVID-19: case management, videoconference hearings and eNCC

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Amsterdam, 27 May 2020

Due to Government measures to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus all courthouses in the Netherlands were closed to the public from 17 March 2020 through mid-May. This included the Palace of Justice of the Amsterdam Court of Appeal, where the Netherlands Commercial Court (NCC District Court and NCC Court of Appeal) are located.

NCC immediately alerted the public to what this meant for NCC operations.

The closure of the courthouse did not materially affect NCC operations. We’ve been open for business since the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus. And we still are. 

Courthouses in the Netherlands are gradually re-opening. The NCC courthouse will be accessible to lawyers and parties effective 1 June 2020 if the court orders a courtroom hearing. However, some restrictions will still apply, such as a maximum number of attendees. And in most cases members of the public will not be allowed to enter the courthouse. In the courthouse special precautions have been taken to minimise COVID-19 risks.

What have we been doing in the last two months?

Case management

The NCC has swiftly and effectively dealt with two summary proceedings cases:

  • The first case was initiated in mid-March and closed in late April. Three hearings were held (one by conference call and two by videoconference attended by Dutch and international counsel and members of the public), and two judgments (one on a motion and one on the merits were given within that timeframe.
  • The second case was initiated in early May. A videoconference hearing was held the week after (on 12 May), followed by an abbreviated judgment the next day. The full judgment was issued two weeks later.

In both cases, the judge set a timetable early on, and the case moved forward on schedule. The timetable reflected the need for full briefing and debate as well as a speedy disposition.


As these cases illustrate, the courthouse closures did not affect our written communication with the parties or the initiation of new cases. Well before mid-March, all communications and filings were being submitted electronically in NCC’s eNCC portal.

Several advantages are noteworthy:

  • eNCC helps not only to keep things moving, but also to have an up-to-date overview of pending cases and new cases that are initiated
  • eNCC enables NCC to communicate swiftly with the parties, as the designated judge and clerk have direct access to the case file; directions can be given without the need for the Registry passing on information to and from the judge.

In the two recent cases discussed above, communication was quick and clear, and counsel had continuous access to documents and updates in eNCC.

In other courts in the Netherlands, the COVID-19 situation has had a greater impact, as they were mostly still relying on hard copy case files. They have switched to email filing, but that makes it hard to keep track of which documents have been filed and what the current status is.

Videoconference hearings

The main thing NCC had to organise was hearings. A videoconference system was available in the courthouse, but it was not accessible in March and April due to the courthouse being closed.

Therefore, we decided to schedule remote hearings, using Skype for Business, which is available to all Dutch court personnel. We have prepared a manual (pdf, 51.8 KB) and a specific set of rules.

The videoconference hearings have been successful – allowing interaction, dialogue and argument, just like a courtroom hearing. Our first videoconference hearings were held on 10 and 22 April 2020. Several Dutch lawyers and foreign lawyers attended, as well as members of the public.

Open to the public

From the outset, NCC videoconference hearings have been open to the public as usual. To participate, just call or email the Registry to let them know you’re interested. You’ll receive a login link, and you’re on your way. We provide a Hearing List to the public with details on scheduled hearings.
We’ve not had any requests from the media so far, but they are welcome to attend.

NCC videoconference hearings generated more intense interest from members of the public, and more foreign lawyers joined as well. The reason may be that it was no longer necessary to travel to the courthouse in the Netherlands. In the pre-coronavirus era, there was an NCC rule allowing videoconference participation by foreign lawyers, but it was seldom used at that time.

In the videoconference hearings, though, we faced one issue: some members of the public wanted to remain anonymous. We decided to apply the ordinary courtroom hearing rules: accordingly, members of the public must be on screen and viewable by the parties. Therefore, we require that anyone from the public wishing to attend must switch on their camera.

Live broadcasting

We are contemplating options for live feeds from hearings. A review of relevant data protection and other rules is in progress.

More information on the NCC

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