Effective the 1st of January 2017 the District Court of Rotterdam became the exclusive court of competent jurisdiction for cases involving maritime and transport law in the Netherlands. The court already has a long standing legal and substantive expertise on maritime issues, and holds an outstanding reputation in this area. Combined with a strong presence of ship-owners, stevedoring companies, agents, shipbuilders and specialised maritime law firms in and around Rotterdam, helped the government decide to concentrate shipping cases at the District Court of Rotterdam.
The severe complexity of maritime and transport law requires high levels of expertise when dealing with such cases. Because of this it is expected that having judges specialised in maritime affairs helps to improve efficiency of procedures and the quality of jurisdiction. But also enhance the knowledgebase and expertise at the district’s court even further. In 2016 the maritime chamber of the court already started with an extended trial phase to conduct maritime lawsuits in English. With this initiative the District Court of Rotterdam is trying to meet the needs for international trade. These measures help position Rotterdam as an attractive hub for maritime dispute resolution. In the end this should attract more international business in Rotterdam. Which in its turn is good news for maritime business service providers.
“The Rotterdam Maritime Services Community (RMSC) is pleased with these developments. This is a great impulse for even further specialisation of the maritime judiciary and for Rotterdam to become the global centre for maritime business services”, says Jasper Groen, board member of RMSC and maritime lawyer in Rotterdam.
Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad published a background article that makes for a very interesting read.