On 1 January 2015 the New Dutch Arbitration Act entered into force. Aside from updating the arbitration law, this legislation aims to strengthen the position of the Netherlands as an important (international) arbitration country, for instance, by taking into account the Uncitral Model Law on International Arbitration of the United Nation.
The Act provides that an arbitration clause in general terms and conditions falls into the so called 'black list' of unreasonable clauses in consumer agreements. For this reason, parties should consider amending arbitration clauses in their general terms and conditions as soon as possible.
The Act provides a statutory framework for E-Arbitration, including correspondence and arbitral awards by email. Furthermore, the arbitration proceedings are simplified in some circumstances and certain costs are no longer applicable. The requirement of filing the arbitral award has been abandoned and the proceedings for annulment of an arbitral award are reduced to proceedings in one factual instance, before the Court of Appeal. However, the possibility of cassation remains.
The Act also provides that an arbitration clause included in the general terms and conditions will be placed on the so called 'black list'. If such an arbitration clause is invoked by the company that uses the general terms vis-a-vis a consumer, this is considered unreasonable and hence it can be annulled, unless the general terms and conditions provide that the consumer can choose to go to a regular court for the settlement of the dispute within a period of at least one month after the company invokes the clause. To avoid annulment it is not sufficient that such a period is in fact granted; it should be specifically included in the general terms and conditions. Parties that have an arbitration clause in their general terms and conditions should consider making an amendment to this effect as soon as possible.
The revised Act applies to arbitrations that are brought before the tribunal on or after 1 January 2015. The old rules apply to cases that have been brought before the tribunal before this date.