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Governmental bodies have an impact on nearly every aspect of our lives, albeit in a rather unobtrusive manner. However, things change once the duties and competencies of these bodies collide with the interests of individuals and companies. The maze of rules, regulations and seemingly ever-changing administrative procedures can quickly dampen the enthusiasm of foreign entrepreneurs and newcomers to the country.
Most often disputes are related to aspects of everyday living; spatial planning within the neighbourhood, licences, subsidies, permits, enforcement of regulations and the supervision of all of the above. Many procedures have strict terms and a firm calendar. One is well advised to keep to the rules and inform the competent authorities ahead of deadlines, (should one need additional time, for e.g. objections).
The general legislation concerning governmental rules and regulations is incorporated in the Algemene wet bestuursrecht (Awb), the Dutch General Administrative Law Act. Administrative law orbits around two important terms: the decision or order of an administrative body and the interested/affected party. Governmental law foresees different procedures that allow affected parties to intervene, following a decision they disagree with, seeking either the amendment of an existing decision or its annulment. However, such procedures can only be initiated once the interests are directly related to the administrative decision. Thus the term interested party not only decides who can lodge a a notice of objection, but also who can intervene.
Disputes and courts
With only a handful of exceptions, administrative disputes regarding decisions or orders given by municipal, provincial or central government are heard by a District court. In most cases the hearing by the administrative law sector is preceded by an objection procedure under the auspices of the relevant governmental bodies. The Dutch Council of State is both a court of sole and last instance and an appeals court and therefore the highest general administrative court in the Netherlands. It hears appeals lodged by members of the public or companies. The Council is not the only supreme administrative jurisdiction in the Netherlands. The Central Appeals Court for Public Service and Social Security Matters in Utrecht is the highest court in that sphere, while in the area of socioeconomic administrative law the highest court is the Administrative Court for Trade and Industry.
GMW’s LED lawyers have a solid experience in handling cases that imply administrative law, constitutional law or fundamental civil and human rights within an administrative perspective. The lawyers working within the Administrative Law department advise and represent clients in all cases that involve governmental administrative bodies; be it as contractual partners, supervisory bodies or opponents in all administrative courts. Clients can decide on their further actions on the basis of a risk assessment and an estimate of the costs involved, aiming to keep all procedures as short as possible. Our specialists will assist them once litigation is unavoidable.
Please contact Arthur de Groot for advice.