Amsterdam court rules against Airbnb in potential €200m fees case

Netherlands: Airbnb is set to land a bill totalling up to €200 million after a court in Amsterdam ruled that it was not entitled to claim booking fees from Dutch domestic travellers.

The district court in Amsterdam ruled that the platform had breached a law in the country which forbids middlemen from securing fees from both parties in a transaction.

As a result, Airbnb was forced to repay €470 in fees to the customer who put forward the case, yet as lawyer Nicolaas Huppes told DutchNews.nl, the court ruling applies to all bookings made by tourists who live in the Netherlands. The article reported Huppes as telling Amsterdam daily newspaper Het Parool that Airbnb will now be subject to claims from anyone who has paid the 15 per cent accommodation fee since 2015 with middlemen involved.

In fact, the booking platform will from now on only be able to secure the 3.6 per cent fee it takes from owners.

Huppes said: ‘This isn’t a small thing, it’s a 16-page judgment. Three judges have considered this case and I’ll be interested to see how they react.”

In October 2015, the ruling barring intermediaries from representing both sides, which applies to real estate, employment mediation and financial products, was passed by the Dutch Supreme Court. Huppes added that he was set to pursue further  individual or collective claims against Airbnb for a commission of 30 per cent.

In a statement, an Airbnb spokesperson said the court’s decision contravened the ruling passed by the European Court of Justice [CJEU] in December 2019, in which Airbnb was judged to be an online platform, rather than an agent [or middleman].

They said: “Airbnb told the Parool it would appeal against the ruling, arguing that similar claims had been dismissed by judges in Rotterdam and Utrecht. ‘This decision is against European law.

“The European Court of Justice recently decided that Airbnb is an online platform and not an agent. The application of Dutch law is in breach of that decision,” they added.