Tussen partijautonomie en ongelijkheidscompensatie: Hoe kantonrechters omgaan met niet-vertegenwoordigde partijen

Translated title of the contribution: Between party autonomy and inequality compensation: How Dutch subdistrict judges deal with unrepresented parties

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Abstract

This paper focuses on the impact of the (increasing) possibility for parties in Dutch
civil cases to litigate without the guidance of a legal aid provider on Dutch civil
procedure. It analyses the extent to which such self-representation influences the
role of the judge in the context of Dutch subdistrict court procedures, where
representation is not mandatory. Through empirical data, collected through semi-
structured interviews with 26 subdistrict judges, more insight is gained into the
dilemmas that the lack of representation of parties presents to judges, and the ways
in which they deal with these dilemmas. The interviews show how judges seek a
balance between their role as neutral arbitrator in a dispute and a more active role
necessitated by parties not being represented by a legal aid provider. In doing so,
they navigate between process and content. Within this dynamic, judges must
constantly balance the trade-off between acting more actively to gather sufficient
information for a substantive handling and assessment of the case, on the one hand,
and safeguarding the limits of party autonomy and their own (perceived) neutrality,
on the other. Full party autonomy is viewed by judges as unrealistic and, moreover,
contrary to truth-finding.
Translated title of the contributionBetween party autonomy and inequality compensation: How Dutch subdistrict judges deal with unrepresented parties
Original languageDutch
Pages (from-to)16-40
Number of pages25
JournalRecht der Werkelijkheid
Volume42
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 22 Nov 2021

Bibliographical note

JEL Classification: K41, K36, K31, K12

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