23 April 2022

Five recurring issues when purchasing a yacht in the Netherlands

Category: Buying a yacht


Buying a yacht should be a highlight in your life. Yachting is one of the great pleasures in life. Blenheim facilitates yacht owners with legal services. This blog is a brief summary of issues we see recurring in yacht sales.

1 Regulatory compliance – CE certificate for yachts

A yacht should be CE certified. It is very inconvenient if a yacht has an electrical system that does not comply with CE standards. Aside from failure of the electrical system, it may cause insurance problems. For this reason, you should always check the certification of a yacht. CE Certification is required for all recreational boats entering, or being sold in, the European Union. Manufacturers must test and document products to ensure conformity with all applicable European directives and requirements. CE certification is obtained from Notified Bodies, organizations that are recognized by European states to conduct CE assessments and issue CE certification documents. All recreational crafts obtaining a “CE” mark for sale in the European Union must carry a Declaration of Conformity with their technical documentation. The documentation and manual should be together with the yacht. You can read more details here about the legal aspects of purchasing a yacht in Holland.

2 Dispute on a sale and purchase agreement regarding a yacht

Unfortunately, problems with yachts are very often not solved properly. I sometimes wonder why this is the case, especially if a yacht broker was involved in the transaction. We are of course happy to assist in any dispute that arises, but preventing a dispute should have priority. To help do so, you should always have a proper survey done before the boat is actually paid for and delivered. This involves finding yourself a good surveyor. Under Dutch law, you are under a duty to investigate the yacht you wish to buy. The seller is under a duty to disclose any issues such as defects and deficiencies that are not normal. When that duty is not fulfilled, the purchaser may discover a nasty defect after the delivery. You should always immediately complain to the seller about any defect that you discover.

3 Guarantees for a new yacht delivered in the Netherlands

The contract of sale should stipulate the guarantee period. For a new yacht this should at least be two years. Feel free to negotiate a proper guarantee period for the yacht you wish to purchase, but also check what is actually guaranteed by the seller. You are always entitled to the statutory guarantee period of two years if you are a consumer. For the first six months, Dutch law offers special protection, as the seller would have to prove that the defect did not exist on the date of the sale. Watch out for general conditions that try to waive legal rights. A clause in general conditions that attempts to do so may be void if it infringes Dutch law or European law.

4 Prepayment to a Dutch yacht broker

A prepayment often becomes a dispute, especially if the sale is cancelled. You should watch out for requests of a prepayment to a yacht broker – especially if his or her prepayment is requested before you have a survey done. Why would you have to pay anything before you have had a survey done of the yacht? The reason this may cause trouble is very often the small print relating to the prepayment and the survey clause. This can place a duty to buy on the purchaser before the survey and make it quite difficult to step away from a deal after the survey is done, as well as to get the prepayment refunded. So, do not pay anything until you have a proper survey done. Of course, we are able to review any contract presented to you in the sales process. We ask a reasonable fee for this, but I have dealt with so many cases by now that have shown that purchasers should have consulted me earlier in the purchasing process. This would have prevented issues from arising.

5 Dutch law and conditions applying to a yacht contract

Almost all yacht brokers use general conditions that apply to the sale of a yacht. The ‘Hiswa’ condition is used quite frequently. Conditions applied by the seller of a yacht tend to protect the seller. They may contain time limits that should be complied with when you have a complaint or any other claim. Generally speaking, you should always immediately report any issue you discover. The conditions may limit the period that you can file a claim in court. General conditions are regulated by the Dutch Civil Code and clauses that are very unreasonable may be struck out by the Court. Als out check out this blog on Dutch law.