The district courts
Most legal proceedings begin in a district court (rechtbank). There are 11 district courts in the Netherlands.
Each court is made up of several divisions:
- Civil law (disputes between citizens)
- Administrative law (citizen versus government)
- Criminal law (offences)
- Local cases (kantonzaken, relating for example to rents, debts, appeals against traffic fines, employment disputes, and minor offences)
A party who does not accept the district court's judgment can appeal. Criminal and civil cases are heard by one of the four courts of appeal (gerechtshoven). In administrative cases, depending on the subject the appeal may be heard by:
- A court of appeal
- The Central Appeals Tribunal (Centrale Raad van Beroep)
- The Trade and Industry Appeals Tribunal (College van Beroep voor het Bedrijfsleven)
- The Council of State (Raad van State), administrative disputes division (Afdeling bestuursrechtspraak)
The Supreme Court (Hoge Raad)
The Supreme Court of the Netherlands is the highest court in the Netherlands in civil, criminal and tax law. The Supreme Court can overturn judgments, in particular those of the appeal courts (whose judgments can be challenged in the Supreme Court on points of law, a process known as cassatie). The Supreme Court is also responsible for ensuring legal uniformity and the development of Dutch law.
More information on how the judicial system is organised can be found on the rechtspraak.nl website.
The courts publish a large part of the rulings handed down. These decisions and judgments are made available to the public through inclusion in the database on the rechtspraak.nl website.
Is access to the database free of charge?
Yes, access is free of charge.
Dutch judicial system and the Supreme Court of the Netherlands
The national language version of this page is maintained by the respective Member State. The translations have been done by the European Commission service. Possible changes introduced in the original by the competent national authority may not be yet reflected in the translations. The European Commission accepts no responsibility or liability whatsoever with regard to any information or data contained or referred to in this document. Please refer to the legal notice to see copyright rules for the Member State responsible for this page.