Problem-Solving Initiatives in Administrative and Criminal Law in the Netherlands
13 Pages Posted: 14 Feb 2019
Date Written: January 29, 2019
In this contribution we describe how efforts to solve the problems of litigants, suspects and victims are organized in the Dutch administrative and criminal justice systems. Contrary to the problem-solving courts that we know from the United States and Australia, problem-solving justice in the Netherlands is for a large part in the hands of administrative authorities and a variety of agencies in the criminal justice organisation. The possibilities for judges to actually solve litigants’ problems are few, at least in administrative and criminal law. This is related to a lack of expertise and training, but also to time pressure and a lack of involvement of non-judicial expertise in the courts. With regard to the criminal justice system, there is a resistance to a more extensive intervention of the judges in problem-solving initiatives, as this would be at odds with their impartiality and independence. The results of several empirical studies show that the Dutch approach can be quite successful if it comes to ‘keeping cases out of court’. To a certain extent, this approach helps solve concrete problems of parties and of persons situated in a criminal law context. On the negative side, the position of interested parties in administrative decision-making is quite weak, and the same is true for suspects in the criminal justice domain.
Keywords: problem-solving justice, problem-solving courts, responsive justice, mediation, sustainable justice
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