Monthly Archives: April 2015

Conference on Procedural Justice and Legal Practice

meeting-311355_960_720Lisa Ansems

On the 10th of April 2015 the international conference on procedural justice and legal practice organized by the Montaigne Centre took place. Guests and speakers, from Utrecht and from far, gathered at 10 am at a very suitable location: one of the courtrooms of the District Court Midden-Nederland, location Utrecht. After a short welcome by Miranda Boone the conference was officially opened by Ton Hol. He placed the theme procedural justice in the context of the transition from the Enlightenment, when decisions could derive legitimacy through referring to general rules, to the Romantic period, when society requested a more individual approach. Continue reading

Research report: ‘Access to Justice – a current portrait’

algemene_politieke_beschouwingen_in_eerste_kamer_10553669036Hilke Grootelaar

As was proved yet again last week in the Second Chamber, there is great interest in the budget cuts made to the legal aid system. And rightly so, because this ultimately concerns the quality of the rule of law. In the past few years the government has taken various measures which affect the access to justice. This has led to public debates on several fronts. The First Chamber organised an expert meeting on the 4th of February 2014 with authoritative legal experts and subsequently organised a debate on the 11th of March 2014 about the current state of the rule of law. What became extremely apparent from the expert meeting and the debate is that a widespread feeling exists that the quality of the rule of law in the Netherlands is currently under pressure. The concerns on the access to justice are illustrated by the various motions that were carried by the First Chamber. In January of this year it became clear that state secretary Teeven wanted to continue the cuts in the legal aid budget despite the critique from the First Chamber. In February 2015 the government decided that the former mayor of Utrecht, Wolfsen, should be chairman of the committee that is currently researching the rise in costs of the subsidized legal aid. Continue reading

Democracy and Judicial Selection

demokratie-1536654_960_720Philip Langbroek

The provincial elections were considered a test case for the current cabinet, since the provincial councils also elect the Senate of the Dutch Parliament. The elections were accompanied by a debate on whether we should get rid of the Dutch Senate. Politicians from one of the coalition parties pleaded for the abolition of the Senate, because the Senate can block legislative bills from becoming law. Seeing as the indirect election of this body does not run simultaneously with the election of the House of Representatives, coalition governments with a majority in the House of Representatives, may have to deal with minority support in the Senate. This can be inconvenient for the parties supporting the government in the House of Representatives. The entire idea of checks and balances between different state bodies in order to counterbalance the exercise of government power, however, seems to be an alien concept to those debaters. They also do not seem to care much about the quality of representative democracy, as they only want to have a more efficient decision making process for the majority. Instead of discussing more efficient decision making at the detriment of effective voting rights of citizens, we should focus on how we can reinforce the democratic position of citizens. Continue reading