Class Actions

Class Actions

Class action lawsuits in the Netherlands

Companies, financial institutions and governmental bodies increasingly find themselves confronted with mass claims in the Netherlands, often initiated by well-funded claim vehicles. Over the past decade, the Dutch jurisdiction has emerged as a popular hub for such claims, whether in the form of a class action or as a large bundle of claims organised through the assignment model. The introduction of the new Dutch class action regime (Wet afwikkeling massaschade in collectieve actie or WAMCA) has contributed to this trend. 

Furthermore, the Representative Actions Directive empowers European consumers by introducing EU-wide collective redress mechanisms for EU consumer law infringements, further increasing the risk of being confronted with such actions.

Class action litigation: a dynamic of its own

Mass claims bring much publicity and involve high stakes. Therefore, these claims can have a huge impact on the defendant's organisation and its business. The proceedings tend to revolve around a wide array of complex issues. Claimants often add complexity to the matter by targeting not only defendants seated in the Netherlands but also foreign companies with activities in an EU jurisdiction. Claim vehicles and their funders are driven by their business models and tend to design the class as wide as possible, often including members who are resident in a foreign jurisdiction, which may give rise to jurisdiction and applicable law discussions.

A tailored strategy to effectively manage and defend class actions

These dynamics require a thorough understanding of the company's challenges when confronted with a mass claim. Designing a bespoke strategy to get the most favourable result can only be achieved in close cooperation with our clients. Our class actions team is well suited to address these challenges. Over the past two decades, our team has accumulated an impressive amount of experience in handling cases mainly representing foreign and Dutch defendants. We have proved that we are able to master and oversee the complexity in these types of cases. Whether the strategy requires reaching a class settlement, challenging jurisdiction and admissibility or litigating the matter all the way to the Supreme Court, our team offers the full set of skills, capability and experience required for this.  
  • "A client states: 'Very professional litigation team with a client centric approach. The team consists of good litigators, applies a structured approach in preparing litigation and takes specific client requests into account with flexibility'."
    Legal 500, Class Actions (2024 edition)
  • Representing a major Brazilian oil company in its defence in a securities class action submitted by a mass claim vehicle. The vehicle allegedly represents a worldwide class of securities holders (excluding US investors) who claim they suffered financial loss because of alleged fraud between 2004 and 2014.

  • Representing various car manufacturers in a number of class actions brought by various claim organisations. The organisations claim to represent the interests of pan-European classes of persons owning or leasing diesel vehicles – including consumers, corporate buyers and lessees. 
  • Representing an insurance company in Dutch class actions relating to millions of unit-linked insurance policies. The claimants are seeking compensation for alleged mis-selling. The outcome of this case will be relevant for all large insurance companies in the Netherlands that have provided unit-linked insurance policies.

  • Representing the Dutch State in preliminary relief proceedings brought by Dutch Trade Unions. The claimants sought an advance on damages for loss of income of healthcare workers suffering from persistent severe Long COVID complaints after being infected with COVID-19 during the first waves in 2020
  • Representing a major truck manufacturer in its defence strategy against multiple cartel damages mass claims.

  • Representing an international air cargo carrier in its defence in follow-on proceedings relating to airfreight services. The claimants claim compensation for an alleged overcharge that thousands of shippers from multiple jurisdictions in Europe and around the world paid in relation to fuel surcharges and security surcharges.
  • Provided pro bono assistance to a coalition of public organisations that aim, through the courts, to force the State to cease ethnic profiling - by The Royal Netherlands Military Constabulary - that leads to discrimination. The Hague Court of Appeal decided that the Royal Netherlands Military Constabulary is no longer allowed to use ethnic profiling at the border. This judgment reversed the District Court's decision of 22 September 2021, which did allow ethnic profiling.
  • Advising and representing a commodity trading company against two pending class action litigations by Dutch mass claim vehicles concerning the alleged disposal of chemical waste in a foreign jurisdiction. 
  • Advising a multinational conglomerate operating in the fields of industry, workers safety, U.S. health, and consumer goods in its (defence) strategy against possible multiple enforcement actions and mass damages claims relating to climate and health effects due to its emission of chemicals.
  • Brought a collective action on a pro bono basis on behalf of a foundation that represents the interests of Sinti, Roma and Travellers against breaches of their human rights by a Dutch municipality.
  • Representing a heat supply company in appeal proceedings regarding the restitution of the alleged undue payment of a periodic connection fee over a 30-year period
  • Representing a leading international cooperative and marketplace for floriculture in class action proceedings before the Amsterdam Court of Appeal brought by a Dutch Trade Union. The proceedings concern allegedly unsafe (exposure-related) working conditions for personnel in several production facilities and warehouses.
  • Advised a major foreign bank that offered consumer revolving loans in the Netherlands. The clause allowing the bank to change the interest rate was challenged under the Unfair Terms Directive. After several individual proceedings a scheme was developed by which, in order to avoid further legal proceedings, the bank compensated its borrowers.
  • Represented the trustees of a Dutch retail bank in a EUR 5.7 billion bankruptcy in class settlement negotiations with a number of representatives of a class of 570,000 members. This led to a court-certified class settlement of several hundred million euros. 

  • Represented a steel welding company against the first ever collective health and safety claim brought by a Dutch Trade Union on behalf of employees.
  • Represented a former CFO of a Belgian bank/insurance company in his defence against several prospectus claims, including a mass claim brought by the Dutch Shareholders Association (VEB).
Houthoff's class actions team is involved in many of the foremost complex mass litigation cases, both in national and international contexts. These cases include securities class actions, diesel emission cases, financial mass claims, competition litigation, health and safety claims, environmental claims and consumer claims (EU law related). The team closely collaborates with colleagues in other practice areas, such as privacy & data protection, climate changeESGcompetitionenergy, and employment & pensions.

Feel free to contact us and find out how our class actions team can help you protect your organisation and effectively manage your legal risks.


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Key Contact

Advocaat | Partner

Key Contact

Advocaat | Partner