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Netherlands / Council of State / ECLI:NL:RVS:2016:2501

Company v the Minister of Social Affairs and Employment

Deciding Body type:
National Court/Tribunal
Deciding Body:
Council of State
Decision date:

Key facts of the case: 

On 9 July 2013 the Minister of Social Affairs and Employment fined the company because it had hired three Bulgarian employees. The fine amounted to € 24,000. The legal basis for the fine was the Aliens Employment Act (Wet arbeid vreemdelingen) which prohibited the company to hire employees that did not have a work permit. The company says it has not been able to defend itself properly, because the notification of the fine sent by the Minister never reached it. The Minister claims he sent the notification to the address mentioned in the records of the Chamber of Commerce. However, the Council of State admits that the actual address of the company differs. It may be assumed that it did not receive the notification. However, it has had the opportunity to defend itself at a later stage, when it was given the opportunity to object to the fine in writing and orally before a committee of civil servants. The company alleges that the fine might have been lower when it had been able to raise its objections immediately after the notification. The Council of State, however, says that the committee mentioned judged the case in full, including the amount of the fine, so that it was not to the detriment of the company that it had not been able to object immediately after the notification that it had not received. Only a  violation of the right to defend oneself, as laid down in article 41, par. 2 of the Charter on the fundamental right, that could have led to a different judgement than pronounced, can be relied upon by the company. This is not the case here. The judgement would have been the same anyway. 

Outcome of the case: 

A company can only rely on a violation of the right of defence, laid down in Article 41, par. 2, if it led to a different judgement in a case than the judgement pronounced.