Supreme Court of the Netherlands
|Supreme Court of the Netherlands|
|Hoge Raad der Nederlanden (|
Supreme Court of the Netherlands, The Hague
|Established||1 October 1838|
|President of the Supreme Court|
|Since||1 November 2014|
|This article is part of a series on the|
The Supreme Court of the Netherlands (
The Supreme Court rules civil and criminal matters. In certain
The Supreme Court currently consists of 36 judges: a president, six vice presidents, twenty-five justices (raadsheren, literally "Lords of the Council") and four justices extraordinary (buitengewone dienst). All judges are appointed for life, until they retire at their own request or mandatorily at the age of 70.
The development of cassation in the Netherlands was heavily influenced by the
During the German occupation, the Supreme Court kept functioning. In November 1940 the German occupiers forced its President, Lodewijk Ernst Visser, to resign because he was Jewish. Visser's colleagues did not protest. The members who remained also signed a compulsory declaration about
After the liberation, people reproached the Court for a weak and legalistic attitude. The Court wished above all to guarantee the continuity of its jurisdiction and not to become involved in politics. However such chances as there were to take a stand on principle against the Germans were largely missed. The Justices either omitted to give a moral example or felt they were not in a position to do so. This was demonstrated in a so-called "Test sentence", (Supreme Court, 12 January 1942, NJ 1942/271), in which the Supreme Court ruled that a Dutch judge could not contest the decrees of the occupying force on the basis of international law, in particular the 1907 regulation prescribed for a country at war. In this the Supreme Court followed the advice of the barrister-general A. Rombach. The judgment concerned a case in which a man was sentenced by the economic judge for an "economic offence" (the purchase of pork without valid coupons). The counsel for the accused, P. Groeneboom, argued in his defense before the Supreme Court on 27 October 1941 that the judge had the authority to challenge the regulations of the occupying force on the basis of the regulation prescribed for a country at war, the decree of the Führer and the first regulation of the government commissioner. When the Supreme Court (in a judgment of 12 January 1942) denied the possibility of contesting rules issued by the German government, the Netherlands followed what was the rule in Germany and Italy too. On the basis of two emergency measures Hitler had the authority to issue incontestable rules, and the legal establishment acknowledged not it was not allowed to challenge "political" measures. "Political" in this case was what the political authorities considered to be political. In Italy the Court of Appeal recognized the free authority of Mussolini and the judge's lack of authority to control it. Meihuizen says about the Dutch test sentence: "A sentence with far-reaching consequences because with this, barristers were not given the chance to bring before the judge the question of the validity of legislation which had been issued by or on behalf of the occupier.":85 The Supreme Court defended this sentence in retrospect with the conjecture that the Germans would never accept their decrees being contested and might have intervened in a negative way with the legal establishment, resulting in a further diminishing of citizens' legal protection.
In 1943 the seat of the Supreme Court was temporarily moved from The Hague to Nijmegen. With the liberation of Nijmegen in September 1944, this led to a situation in which, although the seat was on liberated ground, most of the Justices found themselves still in occupied territory. After the war, there was not much done to clear matters; lawyers who had collaborated with the Germans generally kept their jobs or got important other positions. A crucial role in this affair was played by J. Donner, who became President of the Supreme Court in 1946.