Judges over the age of seventy can continue to serve as deputy judges
Judges and justices who reach the statutorily determined age of dismissal of 70 years, will continue to be available as either deputy judge or deputy justice until they reach the age of 73. Dutch Minister for Legal Protection Mr Franc Weerwind submitted a bill to this end with the House of Representatives.
These judges and justices are necessary, as the judicial system has a backlog in the processing of cases due to a lack of capacity. The current temporary arrangement enabling the availability of these judges and justices is set to end on 15 July 2023. In the submitted bill, Minister Weerwind proposes to extend the availability of these judges and justices for three more years.
“It is essential for our rule of law to have a high-quality judicial system that is able to operate in a timely fashion. It is obvious that this starts with having sufficient judges and justices available to handle the workload. By engaging these extremely experienced judges and justices as deputy, we can benefit from their knowledge and skills and, in doing so, reduce the backlog and the processing time and lessen the workload.”
Judges and justices of 70 years and older are currently available as deputy following the measures taken following the COVID-19 pandemic. This temporary measure, made possible due to the Second Urgent Collective COVID-19 Act (Tweede Verzamelspoedwet), is set to end on 15 July 2023. Minister Weerwind has decided to extend the period during which judges and justices of 70 years and older remain available, by a further three years. In addition to reducing the capacity deficiency and the backlog in the processing of cases, having these judges and justices available should also have a positive effect on the workload and the processing time in the judicial system. The three-year period will be used in order to assess whether the availability of deputies could be implemented on a structural basis.
Lack of capacity
One of the main causes for the lack in capacity is the age-dependent outflow of judges and justices. An increasing number of judges and justices are approaching the statutorily determined age of dismissal, which is 70 years. In addition, a number of these judges and justices takes retirement before the statutorily determined age of dismissal.
This arrangement follows a number of other measures that have been taken in order to increase the capacity in the judicial system. The training capacity for judges and justices has been increased from 80 to 130, meaning that 50 extra judges and justices are trained each year. Furthermore, the Ministry of Justice and Security has helped invest in more support staff. This has been specifically included in the price agreement concluded by the Council for the Judiciary and the Ministry of Justice and Security, which involves an amount of € 155 million for the period 2023 through 2025. The price agreement for the period 2020 through 2022 involved an amount of € 95 million.