|Supreme Court of the Netherlands|
|Hoge Raad der Nederlanden (Dutch)|
|Established||1 October 1838|
|Jurisdiction||Netherlands (including Curaçao, Sint Maarten and Aruba)|
|Location||The Hague, Netherlands|
|Motto||Ubi iudicia deficiunt incipit bellum|
|Composition method||Selected by the House of Representatives on advice of the Supreme Court and appointed by royal decree|
|Authorized by||Constitution of the Netherlands|
Statute of the Kingdom of the Netherlands
|Judge term length||Life tenure with mandatory retirement at the age of 70|
|Number of positions||Varies (currently 36)|
|President of the Supreme Court|
|Currently||Dineke de Groot|
|Since||1 November 2020 |
|Part of the Politics series|
The Supreme Court of the Netherlands (Dutch: Hoge Raad der Nederlanden [ˈɦoːɣə raːdər ˈneːdərlɑndə(n)] or simply Hoge Raad), officially the High Council of the Netherlands, is the final court of appeal in civil, criminal and tax cases in the Netherlands, including Curaçao, Sint Maarten and Aruba. The Court was established on 1 October 1838 and is located in The Hague.
The Supreme Court rules civil and criminal matters. In certain administrative cases it has final jurisdiction as well, while in other cases this jurisdiction rests with the adjudicative division of the Council of State (Raad van State), the Central Appeals Tribunal (Centrale Raad van Beroep), the Trade and Industry Appeals Tribunal (College van Beroep van het bedrijfsleven) as well as judicial institutions in the Caribbean part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The Court is a court of cassation, which means that it has the competence to quash or affirm rulings of lower courts, but no competence to re-examine or question the facts. It only considers whether the lower courts applied the law correctly and the rulings have sufficient reasoning. In so doing it establishes case law.
As the government of the Netherlands is characterised by parliamentary sovereignty, the Supreme Court cannot overturn primary legislation made by the States-General. This is laid out in Article 120 of the Constitution, which states that courts may not rule on the constitutionality of laws passed by the States General and treaties. With the exception of the Constitutional Court of Sint Maarten (which rules on constitutionality with regards to the Sint Maarten constitution only) courts thus have little competence for judicial review with respect to the Constitution. However, it is possible for courts (including the Supreme Court) to overturn secondary legislation made by the executive government.
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 on their 70th birthday.
The development of cassation in the Netherlands was heavily influenced by the French during the Batavian Revolution at the end of 18th century. The establishment of the Supreme Court on 1838 brought an end to the Great Council of Mechelen and its successor the Hoge Raad van Holland en Zeeland, which both served as high appellate courts.
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 Aryans.
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, during the Second World War, 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.
The court was located at a corner of the Binnenhof complex from 1838 until 1864, before moving to a building in the Plein, dubbed het hondenhok ("the doghouse"). The building was fully renovated in 1938 and finally demolished in 1988. At this point the Supreme Court moved to the Huguetan house at 34–36 Lange Voorhout, the previous home of the Koninklijke Bibliotheek (Royal Library of the Netherlands). In March 2016 the court moved into a new building at Korte Voorhout 8.
In the Netherlands a case is first heard by one of the ten district courts (rechtbanken). Afterwards, either side may appeal to one of the four courts of appeal (gerechtshoven). Finally, either party may file a cassation appeal to the Supreme Court.
Justices of the Supreme Court are appointed by royal decree, chosen from a list of three, advised by the House of Representatives on the advice of the Court itself. The justices are, like every other judge in the Netherlands, appointed for life, until they retire at their own will or after reaching the age of 70. Upon reaching the age of 60, a justice may change status to extraordinary, with the effect that the justice no longer plays a full role at the Court.
The Supreme Court is divided into four chambers: the first or civil chamber, the second or criminal chamber, the third or tax chamber and the fourth or ombudsman chamber. The members of the fourth division are chosen ad hoc, but will include the President of the Court.
As of April 2016[update], the first three chambers are composed as follows:
|Ernst Numann (Vice President)||Civil||2000||1950|
|Floris Bakels (Vice President)||Civil||2003||1949|
|Annemarie van Buchem-Spapens||Civil||1 September 1998||1951|
|Kees Streefkerk||Civil||1 October 2004||1955|
|Toon Heisterkamp||Civil||1 February 2007||1953|
|Gerbrant Snijders||Civil||1 June 2011||1961|
|Dineke de Groot (President)||Civil||1 February 2012||1965|
|Martijn Polak||Civil||1 September 2012||1961|
|Vincent van den Brink||Civil||1 October 2012||1966|
|Tanja van den Broek||Civil||1 January 2014||1964|
|Edgar du Perron||Civil||1 April 2016||1965|
|Willem van Schendel (Vice President)||Criminal||2001||1950|
|Leo van Dorst (Vice President)||Criminal||1999||1949|
|Bon de Savornin Lohman||Criminal||1 April 2000||1947|
|Jaap de Hullu||Criminal||1 September 2003||1958|
|Tineke Splinter-Van Kan||Criminal||24 January 2005||1947|
|Ybo Buruma||Criminal||1 September 2011||1955|
|Elishewa van de Griend||Criminal||1 February 2014||1963|
|Nastja van Strien||Criminal||1 June 2015||1961|
|Eveline Faase||Criminal||1 September 2015||1958|
|Matthias Borgers||Criminal||1 January 2016||1973|
|Jeppe Balkema[Note 1]||Criminal||1998||1946|
|Jan Ilsink[Note 1]||Criminal||2003||1946|
|Jacques Overgaauw (Vice President)||Tax||2008||1951|
|Robert Koopman (Vice President)||Tax||1 February 2010||1962|
|Dick van Vliet||Tax||1997||1946|
|Bernard Bavinck||Tax||1 January 2000||1946|
|Liesbeth Punt||Tax||24 January 2005||1962|
|Cees Schaap||Tax||1 September 2006||1947|
|Piet van Loon||Tax||1 February 2009||1954|
|Marc Fierstra||Tax||1 June 2009||1959|
|Theo Groeneveld||Tax||1 February 2012||1948|
|Jules Wortel||Tax||1 February 2012||1954|
|Loek van Kalmthout||Tax||1 June 2013||1955|
|Mariken van Hilten||Tax||1 September 2015||1964|
|Peter Lourens[Note 1]||Tax||1999||1946|
|Jaap van den Berge[Note 1]||Tax||2001||1948|