"Traveling judge" to have final say on Groningen quake damage claims

earthquake Richter. (Picture: Matt Katzenberger/Flickr)

Hans Alders, the National Coordinator Groningen, plans to appoint an arbitrator to have final say on contested earthquake damage claims on homes in the province. This arbitrator will work as a "traveling judge" that Groningen residents can call on if they are dissatisfied with the decision made on their claim after the inspection done by an expert and counter-expert.

This is one of Alders' proposals in his draft program on how to handle the quake damage in Groningen and make the buildings in the province more earthquake-resistant, the Volkskrant reports.

This "traveling judge" will have the final say on damage claims. His decisions are binding to NAM and his service will be free of charge to the claimant.

Alders also wants to make a distinction between "regular damage reports" and "complex damage reports" as from  January 1st next year. A damage damage reports will be considered complex if, for example, other damage occurred in addition to the quake damage, or if there is also social or financial problems involved. These complex reports will be handled by Alders' office from January 1st. He will appoint someone to work with all involved parties on a solution and come up with a mediation proposal. NAM still has to finalize all complex damage reports from before January 1st.

The National Coordinator Groningen wants to make the province more earthquake resistant, especially by strengthening homes. Next year 1,650 corporation homes will be strengthened. Alders is also talking with municipalities and residents to start preparing for the strengthening of homes in Loppersum, 'tZandt, ten Post, Overschild and Appingedam next year. Middelstum Stedum, Uithuizen, Ten Boer and Slocteren will follow later in the year, according to the Volkskrant.

Alders will finalize the draft plan by November 25th. In December it will be presented to the mayors and aldermen of the twelve involved municipalities, the province of Groningen and the Council of Ministers.