When you are summoned in a civil suit, you will be summoned to appear in court on a specific date. If you do not appear as a defendant on this date or if your lawyer does not act on your behalf, the judge will assess whether the formal requirements for summons and appearance have been met. 

If the court rules that the defendant has been summoned in the correct manner, but has not appeared in the proceedings or the court fee is not paid (on time), the court will declare the defendant to be in default. The proceedings are then stayed so that you can clear the default. If you do not clear the default in time, the judge will issue a default judgment. Because you as the defendant have not put forward a defence, the court usually allows the claimant’s claim. 

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Default judgment

Before the court allows the claimant’s claim, the claim is subject to a marginal review: the court reviews whether the claim appears to be unlawful or unfounded and whether the summons meets the legal requirements. In most cases, the claim is fully awarded. If demanded by the plaintiff, the judgment is declared provisionally enforceable. This means that an appeal or the lodging of an objection against the default judgment does not suspend the execution of the judgment.

Opposition after default

You can still put forward a defence against the awarded claim by filing opposition. When the objection is filed in time and in the prescribed manner, the enforcement of the judgment is suspended. If the enforcement of the judgment was declared provisionally, the judgment is not suspended.

The opposition proceedings start with writ of opposition and is conducted before the same court that issued the default judgment. In cases where the defendant is unable to litigate in person, the opposition must be filed by a lawyer. In the writ of opposition, you respond to the content of the writ of summons, and you lodge an opposition to the default judgment. The case is reopened, and the judge renders another judgment.

The opposition period

It is not easy to object to a default judgment, you must adhere to strict deadlines. In principle, the period for lodging an opposition is four weeks. This term starts from:

  • The moment that the judgment or enforcement is known to the person convicted in person;
  • Committing any act from which it necessarily follows that the judgment is known to the person convicted;
  • The day on which the judgment was enforced.

The objection period is eight weeks if, at the time of the default judgment or act of notoriety, the defendant has no known domicile or known actual residence in the Netherlands, but his domicile or actual residence is known outside the Netherlands. Submitting the opposition too late will ensure that the objection is declared inadmissible. In that case, the default judgment cannot be revoked. It is therefore advisable to contact a lawyer as soon as possible after a default judgment.

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Need help with a default judgment?

Are you a defendant and do you have any questions about a summons received, and the time limits for appearing in court? VIOTTA’s lawyers will be pleased to advise you on a default judgment or the opposition proceedings against a judgment. Do not hesitate and contact us as soon as possible.

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VIOTTA is a law firm based in Amsterdam, specialising in providing advice in the areas of corporate law, mergers and acquisitions, contract law and corporate & commercial dispute resolution. We advise in transactional matters and litigate in commercial disputes. VIOTTA provides legal advice to its clients on Dutch corporate law matters, such as corporate governance, board structures, directors’ duties and liabilities, joint ventures and other collaborations. VIOTTA advises purchasers, sellers, management and other stakeholders in domestic and cross-border mergers and acquisitions (M&A).

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