New legislation as of 1 January 2024

As of 1 January 2024, animal abuse and animal neglect will be punished more strictly and effectively. The use of personal data for intimidation purposes will also become punishable. Furthermore, parents will be able to give their child a double surname. Please find below an overview of the various laws that will take effect on 1 January 2024.

Use of personal data for intimidation purposes punishable

Sharing personal data of someone for the purposes of intimidating that person - also referred to as doxing - is punishable as of 1 January. Doxing is a fairly common phenomenon. Personal data, such as addresses, phone numbers, and personal information concerning family members, are shared in app groups, so that this information can be used to terrify someone. Doxing has a major impact on people who are harassed in this manner. They fear for their own safety or that of their loved ones. They are no longer able to express their views without any concern for the consequences or no longer manager to perform their duties. This affects our fundamental freedoms and the functioning of our democratic state.

Victims of doxing are often care providers, police officers, journalists and politicians. However, sometimes scientists, opinion formers or municipal officials are also targeted by people who share or forward their personal details with the purpose of intimidation. Doxing is not a phenomenon that is limited to certain professions; people are subjected to doxing for a variety of reasons. Someone can, for example, post a photo and telephone number of an ex-partner on a dubious online forum, with the purpose of terrifying that person.

Stricter and more effective approach to animal abuse and animal neglect

As of 1 January 2024, animal abuse and animal neglect will be dealt with more strictly and effectively. For example, it will be easier to close down businesses when the animal welfare is threatened. It will also become possible to impose an independent order banning the keeping of animals. Furthermore, the maximum term of imprisonment imposed for animal abuse and animal neglect has been raised to five years. These amendments of the law will allow a faster and more effective approach in combating animal abuse and animal neglect.

In serious cases, it will be possible for a ban on keeping animals to be imposed on the suspect. This is an extremely effective way of preventing new cases of animal suffering. The ban on keeping animals can be imposed in more types of cases and for a longer period of time: in severe cases even for life. Violation of the ban on keeping animals is punishable separately. As a result, each violation of the ban on keeping animals can be enforced and instantly punished.

Combined surname

When the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages was introduced in the Netherlands in 1811, newborns were automatically given the father’s surname.  In 1998, it became possible to opt for the mother’s surname. The new law, which will take effect on 1 January 2024, allows parents to give their children a double surname.
Parents can opt for a double surname if their first child is born on or after 1 January 2024. The surname chosen shall then apply for all their subsequent children.

The law also provides for a transitional arrangement. Parents can also still opt for a double surname if their eldest child was born on or after 1 January 2016. The parents who wish to do so will be able to opt for the double surname within one year as of 1 January 2024. The choice for a double surname is not mandatory. If parents do not make a choice, their child will automatically be given the birth mother’s name if the parents are unmarried or registered partners. If the parents are married or registered partners and no other choice is made, the child will be given the surname of the father or duo mother.

Closing a home in the event of severe violence

Explosions that take place near homes, a property that is being shot at, the use of serious violence near a building in a residential area and the discovery of weapons in a home causing people in this area to feel unsafe. As of 1 January 2024, the law authorises mayors to close a home should these types of situations present themselves, so as to maintain public order in the area in question. Mayors were already authorised to close a home in the event of a serious disruption of the public order resulting from conduct engaged in that home. However, this has appeared to be insufficient in some cases. That is why mayors have resorted to giving emergency orders so as to restore the peace in a residential area. By increasing the authority of closing a property, mayors - including the authorities on Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba - can now close a home if the public order is severely disrupted near the property or there is a substantial fear that such a disruption will take place. Furthermore, a rental agreement can be extra-judicially dissolved and a property can be disowned if a building is closed by the mayor for the purpose of maintaining public order.

Compensation for loss

As of 1 January, the entitlement to compensation for loss is legally documented in the Dutch General Administrative Law Act. Compensation for loss is compensation for a disproportionate disadvantage that has arisen due to the justified work carried out by the government. When a government authority carries out its work justifiably, citizens and businesses will, in principle, be liable to pay the damages arising from this work. However, this rule does not apply if the damages suffered by some citizens or businesses is considered disproportionate. Based on the principle of equality, this damage is payable by the government, by means of a compensation for loss.

Adjustment statutory interest

As of 1 January, the statutory interest will be increased from 6% to 7%. Statutory interest can be added to any unpaid receivables. Citizens with receivables receive the statutory interest by way of compensation. Citizens with debts pay the statutory interest by way of compensation when they fail to pay. The statutory interest also forms part of the maximum credit compensation that may be calculated for the lending of money, bank overdrafts and instalment buying. As a result of the increased statutory interest, this maximum credit compensation goes up to 15%. The statutory interest is calculated every 6 months on the basis of the ECB interest. The statutory interest has been increased by 1 percentage point due to the increased ECB interest.

Change compensation administrator debt restructuring

As of 1 January, there will be an increase in the part of the compensation received by administrators for statutory debt restructuring processes that is irrespective of the duration of a procedure. This is due to the fact that the statutory debt restructuring scheme has been reduced from 3 years to 1.5 years as of 1 July 2023. Moreover, since this reduction took effect, it is possible for the duration of the procedure to commence the moment repayments are made in an extrajudicial procedure. This means that administrators are required to perform the same activities within a shorter period of time, whilst also being given additional activities. By increasing the duration-independent part of the compensation, the compensation for the work performed by administrators remains appropriate. This avoids the work becoming unattractive, which would result in less administrators, and ultimately less debtors being helped.

Reduction of the registry charge

As of 1 January 2024, the registry charge is reduced by 13.5 percent. The registry charge is payable by anyone who wishes proceedings to be brought before the court or who wishes to defend themselves in court. The reduction of the registry charge is applicable to all cases, except civil proceedings involving at least 100,000 euro and proceedings brought before the Netherlands Commercial Court. The reduction was realised as a result of the final cancellation of the 2023 indexation and the reduction of the 2024 indexation. This therefore involves a reduction of the registry charge as it would have been, had the indexations been introduced without adjustments. A total amount of 27 million euro has been made available for this reduction.