Dutch settlement agreement also valid with e-mail agreement?


Dutch settlement agreement also valid with e-mail agreement?

Settlement agreement also valid with e-mail agreement?A settlement agreement, or dismissal by mutual consent, must be in writing. The Dutch employment law states that a settlement agreement between an employer and an employee is only valid if it is signed by the parties. But does that also apply when agreement is reached by email or a WhatsApp message? In this article, our labor law attorney from Amsterdam, mr. Paul Snijders, discusses a ruling in which the employee was mistakenly too late with his request for a transitional compensation as a result after ‘signing’ a settlement agreement by e-mail.

Employee too late with his request to the subdistrict court after settlement agreement?

Pursuant to Dutch law, a request can be submitted by an attorney to the subdistrict court in The Netherlands for the award of transition compensation. This must be done within three months after the employment contract between the parties has ended. According to our labor law specialist, the employee’s lawyer submitted his request to the court on Sept. 5, 2022. He disagreed with his employer about the date of termination through a settlement agreement. According to the employee’s lawyer, this was signed on June 6, 2022, and according to the employer, it was already in place on May 1, 2022. The latter would mean that the employee is too late with his request to the subdistrict court.

Due date for transitional compensation after mutual agreement

The three-month period, according to our employment lawyer, is intended to protect the parties’ interests. It was devised so that parties do not rush into litigation over a severance payment.

Settlement agreement: agreement signed in writing

For a settlement agreement to be valid in The Netherlands, it must be in writing. According to the employee, this was not done. The court ruled that it was established that there was no written signed settlement agreement.

Written agreement VSO by email or whatsapp message

Unlike the employee, however, the Dutch judge was of the opinion that with regard to the written requirement and the formation of a termination agreement, a signature is not always required, but under circumstances a written agreement by e-mail or whatsapp message can also suffice. The employee had agreed by email to the contents of the settlement agreement and to the termination of the employment contract.

Termination date and content of mutual agreement never in question

According to our Amsterdam employment law specialist, it was also important to the court that the settlement agreement had already been sent to the employee on March 15, 2022. Thereafter there was telephone contact about the content. By March 17, 2022, the employee had responded to the email with “agreement.” The employee also confirmed several times in the whatsapp messages that he had signed the settlement agreement. The termination date and its contents were never questioned. The court therefore set the termination date at May 1, 2022.

Request for transitional compensation rejected

The employee’s request for a transitional compensation was thus rejected, because he did agree to the termination through an e-mail which terminated the employment contract with a settlement agreement.

Contact employment lawyer in Amsterdam about severance pay after mutual agreement

Looking for commitment and direct, personal contact with an experienced labor law specialist in Amsterdam? Call our specialized attorney labor law and dismissal law for questions and legal advice on labor law, settlement agreement and transition compensation.


Call our employment lawyers: 0031 20 – 522 1999 


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