5 August 2022

Objection procedure against decision of (local) government

Category: Administrative law

The objection procedure against government decison

If a decison of a Dutch government body is unfavourable you may file an objection. That initiates the complaints procedure. Such an objection procedure with the administrative body (the municipality or other government institution) starts as soon as the objection is submitted in writing. You can also have an administrative law lawyer do this for you. The objection must be submitted within the objection period of 6 weeks from the date of the decision. The objection should explain the objection to the decision in question. The decision itself must be clearly stated and enclosed. All the personal details of the interested parties must also be mentioned. The interested party must also indicate why he is an interested party.

Submitting a pro forma objection against Dutch decison

Sometimes it may be sufficient to submit a pro forma objection. This means that the objection is secured within the objection period and the grounds for the objection are submitted later. This is useful if the objection period has almost expired and there is too little time to elaborate the objections in the notice of objection. The term is then safeguarded with the pro forma objection. However, this is not possible in all procedures. Usually the administrative body will set a further term within which the objections must still be submitted.

No objection but direct appeal to court

The objection procedure can be skipped. You can submit a request to the administrative body that made the decision to appeal directly to the court of law, administrative law division. This can be useful if you do not expect the objection to have any chance with the administrative body itself. It may be efficient to present the objection on appeal directly to a professional judge. Discuss it with your lawyer, it may also save costs of the objection phase.

Objections committee hearing your complaint

Usually, a committee advises on the objection. It is also called an objections committee, an internal committee or an official committee. Only a notice of objection committee has an independent chairman. In the case of an internal or official committee, it is the municipality’s own officials who handle the objection. This is often disadvantageous. Officials are not independent. This can be a reason to skip the objection phase and appeal directly to the court with an administrative law lawyer.

Joining a hearing on submitted objection

A hearing is almost always ordered, at which the objection can be explained. Only if the objection is simply inadmissible will it be rejected immediately. The objector can explain the objection himself, but the authorised representative or his lawyer can also do so. During the hearing of the objection, someone will appear on behalf of the administrative body to present the defence (often the official who made the decision). Usually, a statement of defence is drafted and presented during the hearing. The committee members can ask questions. The mutual points of view can be responded to.

Objection by an administrative law lawyer

You can submit a notice of objection yourself. You can also choose to have an administrative law lawyer submit the objection. This is particularly desirable if the legal issues are more complex, e.g. in the case of a zoning plan, catering regulations, Bibob cases, and cases concerning enforcement (penalties or administrative coercion), where more complex regulations are hidden. The administrative law lawyer can also test the principles of good governance.

Decision period for objection procedure

A decision on the objection must be made within 12 weeks after the objection has been submitted. It may be postponed once by the administrative body. If no decision has been taken on the objection within the decision period, the administrative authority may be given notice of default. If no decision has been taken on the objection within 14 days, an appeal may be lodged with the court on the grounds of a fictitious refusal. The court usually will give an ex parte decision without a court haring. This is therfor an effective measure to put pressure on the authority to make a move.

Decision on your objection

Following the committee’s advice, the administrative authority will make a decision on the objection. Usually, the committee’s advice is adopted, but this need not always be the case. If it is, the decision itself is short. In that case the decision will refer to the advice, which will be adopted in full by the administrative body making the decision. A decision on an objection includes a legal remedies clause. This states that an appeal may be lodged with the competent court within six weeks of the date of the decision on the objection. The appeal period for a decision on an objection is 6 weeks. The decision on the objection ends the objection phase.

Feel free to contact our administrative law team.