Innovation

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Illustrative image of Lady Justice

Reform of the judicial map

The reorganisation of the Judiciary is provided for in the Judicial Map Act, which entered into force on 1 January 2013. The 19 former district courts have been integrated into 11 new courts, and of the five courts of appeal the ones in Arnhem and Leeuwarden have merged. Virtually all the courts, with the exception of the Amsterdam District Court and the Arnhem-Leeuwarden Court of Appeal, will have different seats – a total of 32 at the national level.

 

 

New organisation of the legal map

District courts

  • Amsterdam (Amsterdam)
  • The Hague (The Hague, Gouda, Leiden)
  • Limburg (Maastricht, Roermond)
  • Central Netherlands (Almere, Amersfoort, Lelystad, Utrecht)
  • Gelderland (Apeldoorn, Zutphen, Arnhem, Nijmegen)
  • North Holland (Alkmaar, Haarlem, Haarlemmermeer, Zaanstad)
  • North Netherlands (Assen, Groningen, Leeuwarden)
  • East Brabant (Eindhoven, Den Bosch)
  • Overijssel (Zwolle, Almelo, Deventer, Enschede)
  • Rotterdam (Dordrecht, Rotterdam)
  • Zeeland/ West-Brabant (Bergen op Zoom, Breda, Middelburg, Tilburg)

 

Courts of appeal

  • Amsterdam.
  • Arnhem – Leeuwarden.
  • Den Bosch.
  • The Hague.

Special appellate bodies

  • Trade and Industry Appeals Tribunal.
  • Central Board of Appeals.

 

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Why was the legal map reorganised?

Courts in the Netherlands are relatively easily accessible by the public nowadays – by car, public transport or via the internet. In that sense, less court locations are needed. In order to continue meeting the current requirement for effectiveness and quality, members of the Judiciary must join forces and merge together specific areas of jurisdiction. This involves reducing the number, but increasing the size, of courts of law, which must handle a sufficient number of cases and have access to the people and other resources needed to continue ensuring the quality of the Judiciary in the future. Economies of scale have increased opportunities for the courts to organise their business more effectively: court cases can be handled sooner and be divided more efficiently among staff, and courts are better able to deal with workforce changes and employee illnesses. By reorganising the legal map, the Judiciary guarantees expertise and creates opportunities to develop and further enhance specialisations. Under the new administrative model, the number of managers has been reduced dramatically, and administration and management have been separated. The 3-member boards will focus completely on administrative matters. The various teams will be headed by managers. Read more about the backgrounds of the reorganisation in Reform of the Judicial Map: Quality through cooperation (pdf, 77.9 KB), F.W.H. van den Emster, F. van Dijk, E. van Amelsfort-van der Kam, Trema, April 2011.

 

 

Quality and Innovation

The Judiciary must keep up with the times, operating as it does in a digital society in which people are increasingly using their computers, tablets and smartphones for almost everything. This is quite a challenge for an organisation that still uses mainly paper files and in which the fax machine is still routinely used in day-to-day communications. Many legal documents exchanged between the courts, law firms and the Public Prosecution Service are still in hard copy format, and this should change.

 

 

Simplified procedures

The Quality and Innovation programme is designed first and foremost for people requiring legal assistance and must ensure that a few years from now, complex, official, expensive and time-consuming legal proceedings will be a thing of the past. This will be largely replaced by standardised, user-friendly online proceedings for administrative and civil cases, alongside the existing proceedings. These types of simplified, standardised proceedings are required mainly to be able to serve the public more efficiently, and they are also easier to digitise than the current proceedings in all their varieties. Electronic files can be exchanged more quickly, while eliminating the use of paper files provides the added benefit of being better for the environment.

 

 

Updating the Judiciary for our times

An accessible Judiciary requires the use of electronic resources. The Judiciary is working on improving online accessibility in order to ensure that parties and other persons involved only need to travel to the district court or court of appeal to attend sessions. However, we are mindful that some members of the public do not have access to electronic media.

The Judiciary will also be switching to a ‘wireless office’ environment in the near future, giving its employees the opportunity to work anywhere and anytime in a paperless office set-up.

 

 

Security

The Judiciary will obviously have a solid underlying information security system. The success of the wireless office will depend to a large extent on the security of the systems used. Much of the information relating to court cases is highly sensitive and personal and must never end up in the wrong hands. Since the directors of the Judiciary are all too aware of this fact; security is one of their top priorities.