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Supreme Court of the Netherlands

Coordinates: 52°5′0.52″N 4°18′41.85″E / 52.0834778°N 4.3116250°E / 52.0834778; 4.3116250
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Supreme Court of the Netherlands
Hoge Raad der Nederlanden (Dutch)
Logo of the Supreme Court of the Netherlands
Supreme Court of the Netherlands, The Hague
52°5′0.52″N 4°18′41.85″E / 52.0834778°N 4.3116250°E / 52.0834778; 4.3116250
Established1 October 1838
JurisdictionNetherlands (including Curaçao, Sint Maarten and Aruba)
LocationThe Hague, Netherlands
Coordinates52°5′0.52″N 4°18′41.85″E / 52.0834778°N 4.3116250°E / 52.0834778; 4.3116250
MottoUbi iudicia deficiunt incipit bellum
Where judicial decisions fail, Violence begins.
Composition methodSelected by the House of Representatives on advice of the Supreme Court and appointed by royal decree
Authorized byConstitution of the Netherlands
Statute of the Kingdom of the Netherlands
Judge term lengthLife tenure with mandatory retirement at the age of 70
Number of positionsVaries (currently 36)
President of the Supreme Court
CurrentlyDineke de Groot
Since1 November 2020[1]

The Supreme Court of the Netherlands (Dutch: Hoge Raad der Nederlanden [ˈɦoːɣə raːdər ˈneːdərlɑndə(n)][2] or simply Hoge Raad), officially the High Council of the Netherlands, is the final court of appeal in civil, criminal and tax cases in the Netherlands, including Curaçao, Sint Maarten and Aruba.[3] The Court was established on 1 October 1838 and is located in The Hague.[4]

The Supreme Court rules on civil and criminal matters. In certain administrative cases it has final jurisdiction as well, while in other cases this jurisdiction rests with the adjudicative division of the Council of State (Raad van State), the Central Appeals Tribunal (Centrale Raad van Beroep), the Trade and Industry Appeals Tribunal (College van Beroep van het bedrijfsleven) as well as judicial institutions in the Caribbean part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The Court is a court of cassation, which means that it has the competence to quash or affirm rulings of lower courts, but no competence to re-examine or question the facts. It only considers whether the lower courts applied the law correctly and the rulings have sufficient reasoning.[5] In so doing it establishes case law.

As the government of the Netherlands is characterised by parliamentary sovereignty, the Supreme Court cannot overturn primary legislation made by the States-General. This is laid out in Article 120 of the Constitution, which states that courts may not rule on the constitutionality of laws passed by the States General and treaties. With the exception of the Constitutional Court of Sint Maarten (which rules on constitutionality with regards to the Sint Maarten constitution only) courts thus have little competence for judicial review with respect to the Constitution.[6][7] However, it is possible for courts (including the Supreme Court) to overturn secondary legislation made by the executive government.

The Supreme Court currently consists of 36 judges: a president, six vice presidents, twenty-five justices (raadsheren, literally "Lords of the Council") and four justices extraordinary (buitengewone dienst).[8] All judges are appointed for life, until they retire at their own request or mandatorily on their 70th birthday.[9]


The Huis Huguetan on Lange Voorhout, Supreme Court seat from 1988 to 2016

The development of cassation in the Netherlands was heavily influenced by the French during the Batavian Revolution at the end of the 18th century. The establishment of the Supreme Court on 1838 brought an end to the Great Council of Mechelen and its successor, the Hoge Raad van Holland en Zeeland, which both served as high appellate courts.[4]

Second World War[edit]

Lodewijk Ernst Visser, President of the Dutch Supreme Court from 1939 to 1941, forced to resign by the Nazi occupying forces.

During the Nazi occupation, the Supreme Court kept functioning. In November 1940 the German occupiers forced its president, Lodewijk Ernst Visser, to resign because he was Jewish. It was part of Nazi policy to separate Jews as a group, disrupting legal and social norms, in pursuit of their murderous policy of the Final Solution. Visser's colleagues did not protest. The members who remained also signed a compulsory declaration about Aryans.[citation needed] Visser "repeatedly warned the Dutch authorities not to relinquish jurisdiction over Jewish citizens and residents, and not to allow their legal protection to be lifted."[10]

After the liberation, people reproached the Court for its weak and legalistic attitude. The Court justified its stance because it wished to guarantee the continuity of its jurisdiction under the Nazi occupation and purportedly avoid involvement in politics. They did not take a stand on principle against the German occupation or set a moral example, perhaps because they felt they were not in a position to do so.[11] This was demonstrated in a so-called "Test sentence", (Supreme Court, 12 January 1942, NJ 1942/271), in which the Supreme Court ruled that a Dutch judge could not 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, argued in his defense 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 German government, 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.[12] 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."[13]: 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.[11]

In 1943, during the Second World War, 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.[11]


The court was located at a corner of the Binnenhof complex from 1838 until 1864, before moving to a building in the Plein, dubbed het hondenhok ("the doghouse"). The building was fully renovated in 1938 and finally demolished in 1988. At this point, the Supreme Court moved to the Huguetan house at 34–36 Lange Voorhout, the previous home of the Koninklijke Bibliotheek (Royal Library of the Netherlands). In March 2016 the court moved into a new building[14] at Korte Voorhout 8.[15]


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.


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 extraordinary, 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 ombudsman chamber. The members of the fourth division are chosen ad hoc, but will include the President of the Court.[9]

Current justices[edit]

As of April 2024, the first three chambers are composed as follows:[9]

Name Chamber Invested Born
Martijn Polak (Vice President) Civil 2012 1961
Maarten Kroeze (Vice President) Civil 2016 1970
Annemarie ter Heide Civil 2020 -
Pieter Frans Lock Civil 2019 -
Gijs Makkink Civil 2021 1953
Edgar du Perron Civil 2016 1965
Dineke de Groot (President) Civil 2012 1965
Frits Salomons Civil 2021 1962
Sierd Schaafsma Civil 2021 1969
Carla Sieburgh Civil 2017 1969
Tanja van den Broek Civil 2014 1964
Karlijn Teuben Civil 2022 1973
Hester Wattendorff Civil 2018 1969
Vincent van den Brink (Vice President) Criminal 2012 1966
Matthias Borgers (Vice President) Criminal 2016 1979
Catelijne Caminada Criminal 2020 -
Corinne Dalebout Criminal 2023 1970
Tijs Kooijmans Criminal 2021 1975
Ybo Buruma Criminal 2011 1955
Martin Kuijer Criminal 2020 -
Frits Posthumus Criminal 2021 1962
Annelies Röttgering Criminal 2018 -
Nastja van Strien Criminal 2015 1961
Tamara Trotman Criminal 2023 -
Maarten Feteris Tax 2008 1960
Mariken van Hilten (Vice President) Tax 2015 1964
Arjo van Eijsden (Vice President) Tax 2020 1973
Marjan Boerlage Tax 2017 1964
Peter Cools Tax 2018 -
Liesbeth Punt Tax 2005 1962
Eveline Fasse Tax 2015 1958
Maarten Feteris Tax 2013 1960
Marc Fierstra Tax 2009 1959
Faustina Peters Tax 2024 -
Jules Wortel Tax 2012 1954
Alexander van der Voort Maarschalk Tax 2022 -

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Central Government 13-3-20 Appointment new president Supreme Court
  2. ^ In isolation, Raad and der are pronounced [raːt] and [dɛr], respectively.
  3. ^ "Nederlandse Antillen en Aruba". Rechtspraak.nl (in Dutch). De Rechtspraak. 27 July 2007. Archived from the original on 19 October 2009. Retrieved 2 December 2009.
  4. ^ a b "Geschiedenis van de Hoge Raad". Rechtspraak.nl (in Dutch). De Rechtspraak. 18 September 2004. Archived from the original on 6 October 2019. Retrieved 6 October 2019.
  5. ^ "Supreme Court". Rechtspraak.nl. De Rechtspraak. 10 August 2009. Archived from the original on 16 October 2009. Retrieved 2 December 2009.
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ For a discussion of judicial review in the Netherlands see Uzman, J.; Barkhuysen, T.; van Emmerik, M.L. "The Dutch Supreme Court: A Reluctant Positive Legislator?" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 25 July 2014. Retrieved 16 July 2014.
  8. ^ "The World Factbook". cia.gov. Retrieved 2 December 2013.
  9. ^ a b c "Raad". Rechtspraak.nl (in Dutch). De Rechtspraak. Archived from the original on 29 January 2016. Retrieved 22 January 2016.
  10. ^ Romijn, Peter. "The Experience of the Jews in the Netherlands during the German Occupation" in Dutch Jewry: Its History and Secular Culture. Leiden:Brill 2002, 260
  11. ^ a b c Corjo Jansen en Derk Venema, "The Supreme Court and the Second World War" (in Dutch), Boom, Amsterdam, 2011.
  12. ^ Derk Venema, "Judges in war time: The Dutch judiciary's confrontation with national socialism and the occupation" (in Dutch), Boom, Amsterdam, 2007.
  13. ^ 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).
  14. ^ "Het gebouw van de Hoge Raad". Hoge raad (in Dutch). 12 September 2020. Retrieved 10 April 2021.
  15. ^ "Contact en bezoekersinformatie". Hoge raad (in Dutch). 5 November 2020. Retrieved 10 April 2021.

External links[edit]