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International property and commercial law

A whole series of private international law questions may arise in international property & commercial law, such as which court has international jurisdiction to hear the dispute; which law applies and, if it is foreign law, what does it look like; and under what conditions a foreign judgment may be recognised and enforced.

The rules on international property and commercial law are, to a large extent, based on EU law sources. These instruments take precedence over national sources. In a number of cases, however, the Dutch sources of Book 10 of the Civil Code and Dutch Civil Procedural Code also apply.

International property and commercial law consists of, among other things:

  • International agreements
  • International purchase agreements (including CIGS)
  • International service agreements
  • International business rights
  • International goods
  • International franchise agreements
  • International distribution agreements
  • International transport agreements
  • International consumer agreements
  • International insurance agreements
  • International employment agreements
  • International assignments
  • International tort
  • International product liability
  • International unfair competition and restrictions on free competition
  • International environmental crimes
  • International intellectual property infringement
  • International union action

Martijn Polak, vice president of the Supreme Court and board member IJI on the complexity of the application of foreign law in the Netherlands


International property and commercial law is a separate branch of private international law. It is based on the typical PIL principles, such as the fact that the court with international jurisdiction and the applicable law must have a close connection with the specific case. In international property law, the same method is used to determine the competent court and the applicable law. There are general and special grounds for international jurisdiction and the conflict rule is the starting point for determining the applicable law.

What our Clients Say About Us

Lawyer Tim de Greve, partner at Stibbe.

I regularly engage the IJI in cases where PIL aspects play a role. The institute has existed for over 100 years and can therefore boast a long history and experience. There are prominent people associated with it. Not least Mr Strikwerda. They support you from the outset, immediately understand the question you are faced with and suggest possible solutions. They have the right connections at home and abroad to answer questions within a reasonable timeframe. Apart from that, it is very pleasant to work with the people of the IJI.

Lawyer Channa Samkalden, Prakken d'Oliveira

We have received advice from the IJI on several cases. One example is a case brought by a number of Nigerian farmers against Shell concerning oil pollution in Nigeria. That case is about the application of Nigerian law by the Dutch court. The IJI looked into the framework of tort law in Nigeria for us. We used that advice in the proceedings and also submitted it to the court and it showed, for instance, that our plaintiffs were also entitled to claim against Shell under Nigerian law. The IJI is extremely useful in all such cases because you receive very sound advice on the basis of which you know whether you should have a number of things investigated further. It’s very useful advice at an early stage of your procedure.

Attorney Ria van Seventer, Meesters aan de Maas Advocaten

Our law firm is based in Rotterdam, a city of more than 170 nationalities, so we regularly have to ask the IJI for advice. For example, I had to deal with the recognition of a child by an Italian man, to which Italian law had to be applied. I don’t speak Italian so I could not do that myself. Nor did I have access to the sources which the IJI has.

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