No more getting the fax straight: courts move to email only

Dutch courts set to ban the fax  Photo: Depositphoto

Dutch courts will be going fax-free from February next year, they have announced.

Historically, even now, Dutch court documents are normally sent by fax. However, KPN is withdrawing its ISDN services for traditional faxing and so the courts have been forced to give protected emails the same status as faxed documents.

They will be using a system called Veilig Mailen so that all court documents from next year can be transferred securely via email.

Currently, courts receive 30,000 faxes a month and send 3,500 a month themselves, although this dropped by around a third during the coronavirus crisis. When staff were working from home, the use of the safe email system, which has been trialled since April, rose by 50%, the courts said.


The announcement caused hilarity that faxes were still being used amongst some in the legal profession, and broadcaster NOS even published an explainer for younger people on ‘what a fax is’.

‘I will still miss clients’ amazed faces at the end of a hearing when the judge says that the judgement will be faxed,’ commented lawyer Royce de Vries, son of the late journalist Peter R de Vries. Others recalled the ‘stress’ of wondering whether faxes had arrived, and clients who sent the first page and then blamed ‘technical problems’ to win themselves a few extra hours of time.

Dutch criminal and civil courts are currently dealing with a huge backlog of cases, exacerbated by the coronavirus crisis. In early March 2020, the Dutch prosecution service revealed that 22,700 cases had already had to be postponed due to capacity problems, leading to concerns for suffering victims.

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