Bill on Revision of Highest Administrative Courts submitted

Article

Bill on Revision of Highest Administrative Courts submitted

The bill provides for termination of the Central Appeals Tribunal and the Trade and Industry Appeals Tribunal and transfer of their jurisdiction to the Courts of Appeal, the Supreme Court and the Administrative Justice Department of the Council of State.

22 februari 2016

English version


Introduction

On January 20, 2016 the Cabinet submitted a bill to the House of Representatives that proposes a number of sweeping changes to the administrative justice system. Among the changes envisaged by the Cabinet are termination of the Central Appeals Tribunal (Centrale Raad van Beroep, CRvB) and the Trade and Industry Appeals Tribunal (College van Beroep voor het Bedrijfsleven, CBb). The bill effectively materializes the Cabinet’s plans to concentrate the administrative justice system in order to achieve legal uniformity and enhance clarity. Secondly, the bill provides for a stricter segregation between the advisory and judiciary duties of the Council of State. Finally, the administrative justice system is further standardized by including in the General Administrative Law Act (Algemene wet bestuursrecht) rules for cassation proceedings with the Supreme Court. The proposed changes are explained below.


Concentration of administrative justice 

The Central Appeals Tribunal decides on appeals involving social security, social facilities (such as study finance) and civil servant cases. Because this particularly concerns two-party proceedings, as in tax cases, involving substantive claims of individual interested parties in the case, the jurisdiction of the Central Appeals Tribunal will be transferred to the four Courts of Appeal as the highest courts deciding questions of fact. To guarantee legal uniformity in the aforementioned areas, the court of appeal judgments are open to cassation proceedings with the Supreme Court. So after enactment of the bill, disputes that used to be dealt with by the Central Appeals Tribunal will be open to the same proceedings as tax cases.

The Central Appeals Tribunal currently deals with a large part of the administrative disputes in the field of socio-economic administrative law, such as competition, health care rates, agricultural subsidies, energy, telecommunication and transport. This type of disputes often involves third party interests, and governing bodies thus have quite some discretionary power. For that reason, the Cabinet considers it advisable to transfer the duties of the Trade and Industry Appeals Tribunal to the Administrative Justice Department of the Council of State (ABRvS).

However, due to the close ties with tax law, certain appeals to the Trade and Industry Appeals Tribunal against decisions by the Minister of Economic Affairs in cases involving random depreciation, the energy investment tax credit, and the payroll tax rebate will have to be lodged with the District Courts. Appeals against such District Court judgements can initially be filed to the Court of Appeal, and subsequent cassation appeals to the Supreme Court. Another major change is that appeal proceedings in cases involving allowances will have to be filed with the Court of Appeal rather than the Administrative Justice Department of the Council of State. 


Segregation of duties in the Council of State 

The Cabinet proposes to more strictly segregate the duties of the advisory department and the administrative justice department of the Council of State. To this end, the Council of State Act (Wet op de Raad van State) among other matters provides that State councilors may no longer be appointed to both departments. On top of that, several organizational measures are proposed. However, the Cabinet did not carry out a motion adopted by the House of Representatives insisting on transferring the Council of State’s judiciary duties elsewhere.


Uniform system for cassation proceedings 

Following termination of the Central Appeals Tribunal, the Supreme Court will have to decide on cassation proceedings involving social security law and public service law. For that reason, the Cabinet seizes the opportunity to transfer the procedural law relating to the treatment of appeals in cassation from the State Taxes Act (Algemene wet inzake rijksbelastingen) to the General Administrative Law Act (Algemene wet bestuursrecht). However, this does not involve any substantive changes.


Finally

If the Parliament approves of the bill, the Act will take effect immediately. This means that pending cases of the Central Appeals Tribunal will eventually be decided by the Court of Appeal. For pending cases that were within the jurisdiction of the Trade and Industry Appeals Tribunal, the immediate effect implies they will be decided by the Administrative Justice Department of the Council of State.

Source: Parliamentary documents II 2015/2016, 34 389, nos 2 and 3 (bill + explanatory memorandum)  

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