Courts still need to handle thousands of appeals against Covid fines
A year after the Netherlands scrapped its last coronavirus restrictions, the Public Prosecution Service (OM) still has to assess over 7,000 coronavirus fines. About 4,000 cases still have to go to court, EenVandaag reports based on figures requested from the OM’s Central Processing office (CVOM).
Even though the first fines are reaching their statutes of limitations - 3 years - the OM does not want to dismiss the coronavirus fines. “It is about the standard. We thought it was important then, and it still is,” prosecutor Achilles Damen told the program. “We’re not going to brush this off.” He said the OM is looking at each fine closely and assessing it on a case-by-case basis.
Dismissing the fines also would not do justice to the police and enforcement officers’ work during the pandemic. “Those were the people on the front line who had to address citizens and did so with some expertise. You wouldn’t do that justice if you now say it’s no longer important.”
The CVOM usually handles traffic violations, but it was also tasked with assessing coronavirus fines. As a result, assessors have seen their work double. They usually handle about 200,000 cases per year.
As of March 2020, the OM received about 180,000 fines for violating coronavirus measures to assess. According to the CVOM, the vast majority of these fines have been paid and settled. About 7,000 fines are still awaiting assessment. And the courts have to deal with about 4,000 cases, 2,800 of which are still awaiting a hearing date.
Meanwhile, the statute of limitations is approaching for about 270 cases from 2020 which are still awaiting assessment. The other waiting cases are 6,938 from 2021 and 100 from 2022.
“We have many assessors, but not an infinite number. So we always have to make choices,” Damen told the program. People have the right to the careful handling of their complaints, even if it means waiting longer.
Damen expects the OM will be able to handle most cases before they reach their statute of limitations.