Dutch civil court judges disposed of 795 thousand cases in 2005. This is an increase of 4 percent compared with 2004. Since 1980 the number of verdicts in civil cases has increased nearly fourfold.
Court orders and dispositions
Civil court cases deal with financial matters, dismissal procedures and family affairs such as divorce, parental access and guardianship. Over half of the judges’ decisions are in the form of a court order or a judgement, the remainder are dispositions.
Number of civil court cases
Strong increase in debt collection cases
Three out of four court orders are orders in absentia (332 thousand in 2005), i.e. the respondent was not present in court. Most in absentia cases concern debt collection, and are brought to court by housing associations, public utilities, insurance companies and telecom companies. A considerable part of the increase in the number of civil court orders can be accounted for by an increase in the number of debt collection cases.
Civil court orders, 2005
More family cases
The number of dispositions by civil judges rose by one third between 2001 and 2005. Two-thirds of these dispositions refer to family cases, such as guardianship, divorce, placements under supervision of underage children. Adoptions are also usually finalised via a petition dealt with in court.
Fewer dismissal procedures
The number of dismissal cases dealt with via the courts rose by more than 75 percent between 2001 and 2003. Since then the number has dropped again, by 6 percent from 2004 to 2005. Employees may be dismissed without the intervention of a judge, namely via the Centre for Work and Income (CWI). The number of applications for dismissal received by CWIs fell by 18 percent in 2005 compared with 2004. The total number of dismissal procedures via the cantonal judges and CWI together fell by 12 percent.
Applications for dismissal: via courts and via CWI
Appeals to higher courts
More than 10 thousand appeals against decisions by civil court judges were dealt with by the Courts of Justice in the Netherlands. This is more than in 2004, when these cases number 8.8 thousand. The civil chamber of the Supreme Court pronounced 450 cassation orders in 2005, about the same number as in the previous year.Arno Sprangers and Marcelle van Zee