Netherlands - Courts Simplified
About the district courts
The Netherlands is divided into eleven districts, each with its own court.
Each court has a number of sub-district venues. The district court is made up of a maximum of five sectors. These always include the administrative sector, civil sector, criminal sector and sub-district sector. Family and juvenile cases are often put into a separate sector, as is sometimes the case with the administration of the law concerning aliens. The court board is free to determine such matters.
It is relatively simple for ordinary citizens to have their case heard in the sub-district sector. They have the right to argue their own case and do not need a lawyer to represent them in court. Cases are handled by a single judge.
In terms of civil law, the sub-district judge deals with all cases involving rents, hire purchase and employment.
In criminal law, the sub-district judge only deals with minor offences, not serious offences. Often these are cases in which the police or the public prosecutor has proposed a settlement. If the accused refuses to accept such a proposal, then the case comes before the sub-district judge. The sub-district judge usually delivers an oral judgment immediately after the hearing.