Elgar Encyclopedia of Comparative Law, Second Edition
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Elgar Encyclopedia of Comparative Law, Second Edition

Edited by Jan M. Smits

Written by leading authorities in their respective fields, the contributions in this accessible book cover and combine not only questions regarding the methodology of comparative law, but also specific areas of law (such as administrative law and criminal law) and specific topics (such as accident compensation and consideration). In addition, the Encyclopedia contains reports on a selected set of countries’ legal systems and, as a whole, presents an overview of the current state of affairs.
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Chapter 50: The Netherlands

Jan M. Smits


The Netherlands (Nederland) is one of the four countries within the Kingdom of the Netherlands (the other three are Aruba, Curacao and Sint Maarten). Most of its territory is located in Europe, but the Caribbean islands of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba are also municipalities of the Netherlands. There is no doubt that the Dutch legal system can be qualified as a civil law system as it has codified its major parts of private law and criminal law in codes and meets all other requirements usually attributed to civil law systems (cf. Zweigert and Kötz, 1998, pp. 63 ff.). Usually, Dutch law is located somewhere in between the French and German legal family, although in practice it seems to be closer to the German legal family. This is for example apparent from the Dutch Civil Code of 1992: this code has a general part and a (rather abstract) way of drafting that reminds the reader much more of the German than of the French code. The only official national language is Dutch: all statutes and case law are in this language. The language to be used in all court proceedings is Dutch as well. It is only in the northern province of Friesland that use of Frisian in the courts and in administrative matters is allowed, although this happens only rarely in practice.

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