Judges criticise ‘targets’ and the erosion of Dutch legal system

Several hundred Dutch judges have signed a manifesto protesting at the ‘erosion’ of the Dutch legal system, the Volkskrant reports on Tuesday.

It is the first time judges have been so openly critical of conditions within the legal system, the paper says.
‘We’ve had enough,’ senior judge Menno Zandbergen, and one of the people behind the manifesto, told the paper. ‘The bucket of irritations and dissatisfaction is overflowing.’
Governing body
Judges are particularly angry at the way members of the legal system’s governing body, the Council for the Judiciary, are appointed. ‘The way the Dutch legal system is managed is the result of that body’s choices and we have no influence at all in naming its members,’ Zandbergen said.
The legal system is becoming more like a conveyer belt, in which production and cost targets are key, the protesting judges say. ‘That means, for example, there are disincentives to call witnesses if they are not strictly necessary, otherwise you don’t meet your targets,’ Zandbergen said.
The trend now apparent across schools, universities, housing and education is being felt in the legal system, he says. Management are too far removed from the day-to-day functioning of the legal system and that is damaging its independence and quality.

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