World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Supreme Court of the Netherlands

Supreme Court of the Netherlands
Hoge Raad der Nederlanden
Established 1 October 1838
Country Netherlands, Curaçao, Sint Maarten, Aruba
Location The Hague, Netherlands
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 Appointed for life until retired at 70
Number of positions Varies (currently 35)
Website .nl.hogeraadwww
President of the Supreme Court
Currently Maarten Feteris
Since 1 November 2014[1]
Azure, billetty Or a lion with a coronet Or armed and langued Gules holding in his dexter paw a sword Argent hilted Or and in the sinister paw seven arrows Argent pointed and bound together Or. [The seven arrows stand for the seven provinces of the Union of Utrecht.] The shield is crowned with the (Dutch) royal crown and supported by two lions Or armed and langued gules. They stand on a scroll Azure with the text (Or)
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
the Netherlands

The Supreme Court of the Netherlands (Dutch: Hoge Raad der Nederlanden pronounced , literally "High Council of the Netherlands") is the highest court of the Netherlands, Curaçao, Sint Maarten and Aruba.[2] The Court was established on 1 October 1838 and sits in The Hague, Netherlands.[3]

The jurisdiction of the Supreme Court is limited primarily to civil, criminal and tax cases. The Court has the authority to quash rulings by appellate courts (a procedure known as cassation) and thereby establishes case law, but only if the lower court applied the law incorrectly or the ruling lacks sufficient reasoning. The facts determined in the lower court are not reviewed and are accepted as correct.[4] According to Article 120 of the Constitution, the Court may not rule on the constitutionality of laws passed by the States General and treaties. With the exception of Sint Maarten, the Court has thus no competence for judicial review.[5][6]

The Supreme Court currently consists of 35 judges: a president, 6 vice-presidents, 24 justices (raadsheren, literally "Lords of the Council") and 4 justices in exceptional service[7] (buitengewone dienst). All judges are appointed for life, until they retire at their own request or mandatorily at the age of 70.[8]


  • History 1
  • Authority 2
  • Composition and current membership 3
    • First chamber (civil matters) 3.1
    • Second chamber (criminal matters) 3.2
    • Third chamber (tax matters) 3.3
  • Second World War 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


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 Grote Raad van Mechelen and its successor the Hoge Raad van Holland, Zeeland en West-Friesland, which both served as high appellate courts.[3]


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.

Composition and current membership

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 exceptional (also known as special) service, 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 'ombuds') chamber. The members of the fourth chamber are chosen ad hoc, but will include the president of the Court.[8]

As of September 2015, the first three chambers are composed as follows:[8]

First chamber (civil matters)

  • Ernst Numann, vice-president (chairman)
  • Floris Bakels, vice-president
  • Annemarie van Buchem-Spapens, justice
  • Kees Streefkerk, justice
  • Toon Heisterkamp, justice
  • Coen Drion, justice
  • Gerbrant Snijders, justice
  • Dineke de Groot, justice
  • Martijn Polak, justice
  • Vincent van den Brink, justice
  • Tanja Tanja-van den Broek, justice

Second chamber (criminal matters)

  • Willem van Schendel, vice-president (chairman)
  • Leo van Dorst, vice-president
  • Bon de Savornin Lohman, justice
  • Jaap de Hullu, justice
  • Tineke Splinter-Van Kan, justice
  • Ybo Buruma, justice
  • Elishewa van de Griend, justice
  • Nastja van Strien, justice
  • Eveline Faase, justice
  • Jeppe Balkema, justice in exceptional service
  • Jan Ilsink, justice in exceptional service

Third chamber (tax matters)

  • Jacques Overgaauw, vice-president (chairman)
  • Robert Koopman, vice-president
  • Maarten Feteris, president
  • Dick van Vliet, justice
  • Bernard Bavinck, justice
  • Liesbeth Punt, justice
  • Cees Schaap, justice
  • Piet van Loon, justice
  • Marc Fierstra, justice
  • Theo Groeneveld, justice
  • Loek van Kalmthout, justice
  • Mariken van Hilten, justice
  • Peter Lourens, justice in exceptional service
  • Jaap van den Berge, justice in exceptional service

Second World War

During the German occupation, the Supreme Court kept functioning. In November 1940 the occupiers forced the president, Judge L.E. 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 the 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.[9] This was demonstrated in a so-called "Test sentence", (Supreme Court, 12 January 1942, NJ 1942/271), in which the Supreme Court ruled that the Dutch judge was not permitted to 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, attested in his defence 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 National Socialist oppressors, 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.[10] 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."[11]: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.[9]

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.[9]


  1. ^ "mr. M.W.C. (Maarten) Feteris, president Hoge Raad". (in Dutch). Hoge Raad der Nederlanden. Retrieved 16 September 2015. 
  2. ^ "Nederlandse Antillen en Aruba". (in Dutch). De Rechtspraak. 27 July 2007. Retrieved 2 December 2009. 
  3. ^ a b "Geschiedenis van de Hoge Raad". (in Dutch). De Rechtspraak. 18 September 2004. Retrieved 2 December 2009. 
  4. ^ "Supreme Court". De Rechtspraak. 10 August 2009. Retrieved 2 December 2009. 
  5. ^ According to article 120 of the Constitution of the Netherlands, judges will not rule on the constitutionality of laws passed by the States General and treaties.
  6. ^ For a discussion of judicial review in the Netherlands see J. Uzman, T. Barkhuysen, and M.L. van Emmerik, "The Dutch Supreme Court: A Reluctant Positive Legislator?" (PDF). Retrieved 16 July 2014. 
  7. ^ "The World Factbook". 
  8. ^ a b c "Raad". (in Dutch). De Rechtspraak. Retrieved 16 September 2015. 
  9. ^ a b c Corjo Jansen en Derk Venema, "The Supreme Court and the Second World War" (in Dutch), Boom, Amsterdam, 2011.
  10. ^ Derk Venema, "Judges in war time: The Dutch judiciary's confrontation with national socialism and the occupation" (in Dutch), Boom, Amsterdam, 2007.
  11. ^ Joggli Meihuizen, "Narrow Margins. The Dutch Bar during World War II." (in Dutch), Boom, Amsterdam, 2010 (an English summary was also published by Boom, Amsterdam, 2010).

External links

  • Official website
  • List of justices (in Dutch)
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.