Supreme Court litigation
When the stakes are high and the legal issues are fundamental to your business and reputation, our Supreme Court team delivers.
Cases are often brought before the Supreme Court because of novel or high-stakes legal questions, and in the Netherlands can be litigated only by specialised Supreme Court lawyers. Successfully conducting Supreme Court proceedings requires the experience to develop a legal strategy, an eye for commercial and reputational interests and a deep knowledge of specific areas of law. Our "highly regarded" (Chambers Europe, 2021) Supreme Court team is universally recognised as among the very best in the Netherlands.
The team has won a sterling reputation for taking on matters with a broad societal impact or an impact on business sectors and matters involving a human rights dimension. Because many of the cases we deal with have an EU law dimension, we are also able to boast an enviable track record of ECJ cases, as one of the very few in the Netherlands. Many of the matters that we have dealt with for our clients have become landmark cases. Examples of these are the Yukos case, the Urgenda case and the Pirate Bay case, to name just a few.
We represent national and international financial institutions, corporates, municipalities and NGOs and handle Supreme Court litigation in all areas of civil law, including Dutch Caribbean matters. We are the undisputed market leader among Dutch business law firms in the field of ESG and climate litigation, and particularly well placed to act in banking and finance litigation, director's liability, insurance litigation, class actions and in cases involving state bodies.
A diverse team headed by a Supreme Court litigation star
Our Supreme Court team is headed by Freerk Vermeulen, one of the most accomplished Supreme Court lawyers in the Netherlands and trailblazer in climate litigation. He leads a diverse team of creative legal thinkers that is uniquely positioned to bring a fresh perspective to complicated matters.
Seamless cooperation, at all stages of proceedings
Our Supreme Court team is part of our Dispute Resolution group, the largest litigation and arbitration practice of all law firms in Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg. Combining our experience and unique capabilities in all tiers of the judicial system and in the international and national arbitration system with our Supreme Court strengths allows us to anticipate and mitigate legal risks.
At all stages of the proceedings, we help shape our clients' litigation strategy to maximise the likelihood of an outcome that meets their commercial and reputational needs.
We welcome cooperation. We work seamlessly with both lawyers from across our firm, co-counsel at other firms who may have handled the matter in lower courts, and our clients' legal teams.
Pro bono practice
Access to justice – up to the highest courts – is a human right, and we consider our pro bono practice key to who we are as a firm. We have secured landmark Supreme Court rulings for pro bono clients. A recent example is the Urgenda climate case, the most important Dutch case on climate related litigation.
- We acted for the Dutch Urgenda Foundation in the landmark Supreme Court appeal dealing with the question whether the Dutch State acted unlawfully in respect of its non-fulfilment of the climate goals to which the Dutch State has committed itself. On 20 December 2019, the Supreme Court sided with our client Urgenda. We inter alia developed the human rights argument on appeal (articles 2, 8 and 13 ECHR) in view of the living instrument doctrine of the European Court of Human Rights.
- Over the last 22 years, we assisted several internationally renowned banks in landmark cases concerning securities lease agreements, interest rate derivatives and various proceedings concerning price variation terms in consumer mortgages, in addition to various cases concerning secured credit and insolvency including two landmark cases on bank guarantees. We assisted the Dutch Association of Banks in preliminary references the Supreme Court concerning the seizure of documents and the transfer of non-performing loans.
- We successfully acted for former shareholders of Yukos in various proceedings concerning the de facto expropriation of Yukos and human rights infringements by the Russian Federation. Various matters were put before the Supreme Court in various appeals. Most notably, these include the recognition of foreign judgments under common private international law and the "public policy test" including the consequences of human rights infringements in Russia (2019), the recognition of foreign arbitral awards (2010), the territoriality principle in international insolvency law (2013) and the relation between summary proceedings and main proceedings (2009).
- We defended investors Stati against Kazachstan in Supreme Court appeals concerning the enforcement of a EUR 500 million Stockholm arbitral award.
- In the landmark case of The Pirate Bay we acted both before the Supreme Court and the European Court of Justice on behalf of an internet provider. This case dealt with the question whether, pursuant to Directive (EC) 2001/29, internet providers can be forced to block access to The Pirate Bay. This case directly impacted the business of internet providers in the Netherlands and the EU at large, and directly impacted the human rights protection of the freedom of information.
- We acted for NFE, the Dutch association of mink breeders, in litigation before the Supreme Court against the Dutch State in which compensation was claimed for a statute banning fur breeding in the Netherlands. Claims were based on article 1 of the First Protocol to the European Convention for Human Rights (protection of property).
- We acted both before the Supreme Court and the European Court of Justice in the Universal Music case (C-12/15), a landmark case concerning jurisdiction on grounds of locus damni in case of so called "pure economic loss" under the Brussels I (recast) Regulation.
- In the landmark Delta case we successfully argued before the Supreme Court that legal privilege extends to in-house counsel of companies as well. This case is hailed as an important victory securing the respect for legal privilege in the Netherlands.
- In Diageo Brands/Simiramida (C-681/13), a landmark case on recognition of foreign judgments and the applicability of the public policy (ordre public) exception under the Brussel I (recast) Regulation, we acted both before the Supreme Court and the European Court of Justice.
- We acted in multiple cases before the Dutch Supreme Court and the European Court of Justice for the Municipality of Amsterdam, a longstanding client of our firm. This includes, for instance, a case about EU consumer law and human rights based regulation of access to water and a collective action regarding Amsterdam's public ground lease system and Directive (EC) no. 93/13 (unfair terms in consumer contract).
- We have dealt with an impressive number of Supreme Court cases dealing with all sorts of corporate disputes, including enquiries into alleged mismanagement of a company and post-transaction disputes. For instance, recently we acted for acquisition vehicle Fortbet Holdings Ltd. in a Supreme Court appeal in squeeze out proceedings related to online betting and gaming operator Fortuna Entertainment Holding.
Meet the team leadsSee the whole team
What others say
"The firm's lawyers are experienced in Supreme Court disputes." (Chambers Global, 2021)
Freerk Vermeulen is ranked in Band 1 by Chambers Europe. Freerk "is renowned among sources for his work in the Supreme Court, one describing him as 'one of the best Supreme Court litigation lawyers'." (Chambers Europe, 2021)
"Practice stars include head of the Supreme Court litigation team Freerk Vermeulen, who was successful on behalf of environmental group the Urgenda Foundation in its globally significant climate change case against the Dutch state." (Legal500, 2021)
Robert van Galen (ranked Band 1 by Chambers Europe since 2007) is "highly regarded for advising both debtors and creditors on liquidity issues and bankruptcy proceedings", and clients and peers "praise him for his litigation skills" (Chambers Europe, 2021).