Category: ‘legal profession’

My two weeks at the ULB, Maison de Sciences Humaines

8 April 2017 Posted by Wibo van Rossum

Ik mocht de laatste twee weken van maart 2017 als ‘professeur invité’ fed13640-0ba5-418a-bd20-2f50f5d9b8a8-original werken op het Maison des Sciences Humaines van de Université Libre de Bruxelles. Zie hun website Het is een fantastische vrijplaats voor heel verschillende onderzoekers naar urbanisatie, East Asia, de Arabische wereld, en gender en seksualiteit.17388790_1121173508029346_5492226494380438154_o Ik vond naast het gewone werk, de seminars, een gastcollege en het Belgische bier ook tijd voor reflectie: welke onderzoeksprojecten waar de rechtspraak (ook) iets aan heeft, zijn interessant voor de komende jaren? Vast ook iets met culturele diversiteit … 🙂

You would probably never guess, but behind these doors0a94ca13-b623-4ea4-9c85-4c4300f3ba23-original is one of the most exciting institutions of the ULB, namely the Centre d’histoire du droit et d’anthropologie juridique (CHDAJ,! On 22 March 2017 we had a wonderful and interesting research seminar on « SELECTIVE MOBILISATION OF ‘CULTURE’ IN JUDICIAL SETTINGS ». Seminar_22march_Program&Venue-1[1] The seminar addressed the question of the mobilisation (or non-mobilisation) of the notions ‘culture’ and ‘cultural diversity’ by the different actors of the judicial system, specifically in family and youth justice. We had presentations by Caroline Simon (ULB), Olga Petintseva (UGhent), Anne Wyvekens (CNRS/ISP), Fabienne Brion (UCLouvain), and Livia Holden (Univ di Padua). We discussed institutional discourse, cultural expertise, routine practices of legal professionals, legal consciousness, interpretive spaces, legal cultural differences between the Netherlands, Flanders and Wallonia, and much more. We’ll try and have publications out in the near future, together with Barbara Truffin.

The Law faculty, and btw the whole of the ULB, has very diverse architecture. Here’s two photos to show that:
17636954_1128692497277447_8409080236508160963_o 17635349_1128692800610750_4016901464985044248_o

Another Dutch court on dissolution of Islamic marriage

4 September 2016 Posted by Wibo van Rossum

The Dutch civil court in the city of Eindhoven, formally the ‘Rechtbank Oost-Brabant’, ruled on 3 August 2016 that a shiite man should cooperate in the dissolution of his Islamic marriage. The court ruled that the man infringes the freedom of his wife to enter into a new relationship (his wife issued a tort action). The man initially refused the dissolution because he first wanted the mahr back. The court balanced his interest against the freedom of his wife, and ruled in her favour.

The case can be found (in Dutch) on

Kijken in de ziel van rechters: over de interpretatie van het gedrag van de verdachte

12 August 2015 Posted by Wibo van Rossum

Interessant om een uitzending te zien waarin Coen Verbraak aan rechters uitspraken weet te ontlokken die alle vermoedens bevestigen die ik in 1998 al in mijn proefschrift verwoordde: onbevooroordeeld de rechtszaal ingaan is een fictie en stereotypen doen ertoe. Zie de uitzending Kijken in de ziel van 27 juli 2015.

Judges and ‘polderen’

14 December 2013 Posted by Wibo van Rossum

This week the Vrij Nederland magazine has the traditional survey on the judiciary. Which newspapers do they read? On which political parties do they vote? What is their opinion on the role of victims in court? Etcetera.

Would be interesting to compare if there is similar data from another country ….

The magazine also has extensive interviews with several judges. One small item among many is on the ‘secret of the chamber of deliberation’. The Netherlands knows no dissenting opinions. The judiciary ‘speaks with one mouth’ even if three judges might have had an extensive argument about the right verdict. Ybo Buruma, judge in the Supreme Court, says – as other judges do as well – that there is a strong urge to keep talking until there is consensus. ‘We are forced to talk until we agree.’ Buruma: ‘We are very Dutch in this, it is a bit of polderen.’

‘Polderen’ is a metaphor for those instances where spokespeople of groups that have opposing interest on a specific topic sit together as (more or less) equals to negotiate and talk as long as is necessary to reach consensus. The end result they call a win-win situation. The metaphor was long used for those instances where ‘beleid’ (policy) was formed  in a pre or post lawmaking stage. Now we know that even the judiciary has it …

Protesting Dutch judges

16 December 2012 Posted by Wibo van Rossum

This does not happen often in the Netherlands: judges protesting against their workload and the increasing urge for efficiency. According to NRC (in Dutch), judges from the court of appeal in Leeuwarden have written a manifesto that is discussed internally. The judges complain that the quality of their work hardly receives any attention, while there is an increasing tendency to just look at the number of cases processed. The need to do ‘production’ replaces the need for attention to individual cases and legal quality.

In a first reaction the Council for the Judiciary agreed. “We share the concern”, they said.

To be continued …

Prosecuting judges

9 November 2012 Posted by Wibo van Rossum

The Dutch media and legal profession has been filled and occupied for some years already with the info on two lying retired judges in the so-called Chipshol case about an area of land near Schiphol airport. Today the prosecution said they deemed ‘lying about their intimate friendship’ proven beyond doubt, and asked for a suspended sentence of four and two months respectively, plus a community work sentence for both.

As far as anyone knows, this is the first time ever that judges are prosecuted in the Netherlands.

See NRC (in Dutch only).

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