Dutch courts warn that access to the legal system is under threat

Statue of justice.
Photo: Depositphotos.com
Statue of justice.
Photo: Depositphotos.com

The Dutch courts processed 1.6 million cases last year, but there was a drop in the number of cases heard across all the different types of law – corporate, civil and criminal – the Council for the Judiciary said on Monday.

In particular fewer cases were taken to district courts (kantonrechter) which mainly deal with non-payment of bills and other minor issues, according to the council’s annual report.

While this is partly due to the improved economy and more cases being solved by mediation, there is a ‘worrying factor’, the report said.

‘An increasing number of people are finding it too expensive and too complicated to go to court,’ the report said. ‘The courts are becoming less accessible and that impacts both people who want to have recourse to the law and the entire legal system.’

Frits Bakker, chairman of the Dutch legal council Raad voor de Rechtspraak, has also called for court costs to be lowered. The aim of lowering the fees would not be to increase the number of cases per se but to ‘guarantee Dutch citizens the protection of the law.’

‘Unhampered access to the courts is a crucial condition of this,’ Bakker said.

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