Nieuws - 23 februari 2012

A question of principle over six euros

Who? Bernd van der Meulen, professor of Law and Governance
Why? Got in the news after winning a test case against the Ministry of Justice
What? The ministry has no right to charge 6 euros in administrative costs for traffic fines

What led you to take legal action?
'For three years now the traffic fine forms say you are not allowed to appeal against the administrative costs. And yet I have been teaching my students for 25 years that in a constitutional state you can appeal against anything the government does. It might seem a minor case but this is something that is not on and should not go unchallenged.'
Does such a case involve a lot of time and money?
'Quite a bit of time has been spent on it between 2009 and now but it is concentrated in the peak periods before deadlines. Also, you want as much evidence as possible for your arguments. I won't make any money from it. I'll break even at most if I get everything back.'
And was it worth it?
'I'm pleased with the result but I'm shocked by the process. Especially all the effort and energy the ministry put into avoiding a discussion of the substance of the arguments.
Do you think the Ministry of Justice will appeal?
'They don't really have any choice. They would have to refund 6 euros so many times that they will certainly risk another legal action. I would be surprised if they didn't appeal, but then I get surprised by something every day.'