Short Reads

FAQ: What to do in case of administrative supervision?

FAQ: What to do in case of administrative supervision?

FAQ: What to do in case of administrative supervision?

27.11.2019 NL law

Dutch supervisory bodies regularly use inspections to carry out administrative supervision. However, national supervisory bodies, such as the Inspectorate SZW or the Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate, are not the only ones that carry out administrative supervision. Local supervisory bodies, such as the municipality, province or environmental service, also regulate in this way. This blog in our FAQ series serves to provide a number of practical tools for those under administrative supervision.

 

Please note: the blog below only pertains to administrative inspections. The moment an administrative law supervision shifts to an investigation focusing on punishment (for example by imposing an administrative fine or criminal prosecution), there is no longer any obligation to cooperate with a demand for information. This blog post is based on the supervisory powers of the Dutch General Administrative Law Act (Awb). Special legislation may derogate from this.

In practice, we see that companies are not always fully aware of their rights and obligations and usually adopt an open and transparent attitude during an administrative inspection. A good relationship between the supervisory body and those under supervision is important, and when both parties know their legal rights and obligations, the relationship between them remains sound. Below, we will explain the rights and obligations of companies with regard to supervision, including a number of practical tips.

Powers of the supervisory body

Supervisory bodies have the authority under the General Administrative Law Act (Awb):

  • to enter premises (Article 5:15 Awb);
  • to demand information (Article 5:16 Awb);

Please note: this power is limited to facts. There is no obligation to express an opinion.

  • to demand to inspect proof of identity (Article 5:16a Awb);
  • to demand access to business information and documents and to make copies thereof (Article 5:17). This sometimes means that documents may be taken away for some time to make copies;

Please note: In practice, we notice that parties often do not register what has been taken. You should keep a record of this for your own documentation.

  • to examine cases and to take samples thereof (Article 5:18 Awb); and
  • to examine means of transport (Article 5:19 Awb).

Please note: these powers are limited by the duty to assist (see below) and the principle of proportionality. This means that a supervisory body may only make use of its powers to the extent that this is "reasonably necessary for the performance of its duties" (Article 5:13 Awb).

Obligation to cooperate (duty to assist: Article 5:20 Awb)

In order to ensure that a supervisory body is actually able to exercise the aforementioned powers, a duty to assist has been included in the General Administrative Law Act. The duty to assist means that everyone is obliged to cooperate with a supervisory body (Article 5:20(1) Awb).

  • Who has to cooperate? Everyone is obliged to cooperate with a supervisory body (Article 5:20(1) Awb). In principle, therefore, the circle of 'persons obliged to cooperate' is unlimited. Because a supervisory body may only make use of its powers to the extent 'reasonably necessary for the performance of its duties' (Article 5:13 Awb), there is still a limit as to who can be required to cooperate. For example, the duty to assist rests only on persons involved in the activity being monitored. Incidentally, the duty to assist does not apply to persons subject to an obligation of confidentiality (Article 5:20(2) Awb).
  • The duty to assist is limited: The duty to assist only applies if what the supervisory body is requesting is necessary for the exercise of its powers. This includes the general powers of the General Administrative Law Act, but also any powers granted to a supervisory body by a special law.
  • Cooperation can take any form. The manner or form of required cooperation is not defined, and is therefore essentially unlimited. For example, under this heading falls the provision of information, potentially remaining at a location if asked to do so, or even the transfer of certain cases.
  • Truth: The obligation to provide information or the duty to assist also consists of the obligation to provide information truthfully if a supervisory body so requests.
  • Sanctions for non-cooperation: The duty to assist can be enforced both under administrative law and criminal law.

The possible enforcement of the duty to assist against non-cooperation under administrative law, e.g. with an order subject to a penalty payment or an administrative fine, must then be regulated by a special law. Examples include Article 28b of the Working Conditions Act, Article 1:80 of the Financial Supervision Act and Article 44 of the Licensing and Catering Act.

Possible enforcement against non-cooperation under criminal law follows directly from the law (Article 184 of the Penal Code), but only if the non-cooperation is intentional.

In practice

Above, we have set out a number of rights and obligations for both the supervisory body and parties under supervision. It is important for a sound inspection that both the supervisory body and the party under supervision are aware of their respective rights and obligations.

You can find a Dutch translation of this blog here

Team

Related news

20.10.2021 NL law
FAQ: What will change with the entry into force of the Woo compared to the Wob? An update

Short Reads - The Open Government Act (“Woo”) is to replace the Government Information (Public Access) Act (“Wob”). The Woo initiative proposal was passed in the Dutch House of Representatives in 2016; see our earlier Stibbeblog. However, the impact analysis that followed showed that the Woo as proposed was potentially impracticable for local governments. This led to amendments to the bill, which was passed by the House of Representatives on 26 January 2021. 

Read more

13.10.2021 NL law
FAQ: Hoe een begrip uit te leggen als een definitie of andere uitleg ervan in de wettelijke regeling ontbreekt?

Short Reads - Hoe een begrip uit te leggen als een definitie of andere uitleg ervan in de wettelijke regeling ontbreekt? Deze vraag komt meer dan eens aan de orde in geschillen en procedures. De Afdeling bestuursrechtspraak van de Raad van State beantwoordt deze vraag onder meer in een uitspraak over pleziervaartuigen en woonschepen in de jachthaven te Kaag (25 augustus 2021, ECLI:NL:RVS:2021:1897).

Read more

20.10.2021 NL law
FAQ: Wat verandert er met de inwerkingtreding van de Woo ten opzichte van de Wob? Een update

Short Reads - De wet open overheid (“Woo”) moet de Wet openbaarheid van bestuur (“Wob”) vervangen. Al in 2016 is het initiatiefvoorstel van de Woo aangenomen in de Tweede Kamer. Hierover kon u eerder een Stibbeblog lezen. De impactanalyse die volgde toonde echter aan dat de Woo zoals voorgesteld mogelijk onuitvoerbaar was voor decentrale overheden. Dit heeft geleid tot wijzigingen in het wetsvoorstel dat op 26 januari 2021 door de Tweede Kamer is aangenomen. 

Read more

13.10.2021 NL law
De hardheidsclausule en ander maatwerk in het licht van de NOW

Short Reads - Uitzonderingen op de NOW zijn volgens de bestuursrechter niet mogelijk door het bewust ontbreken van een hardheidsclausule, maar worden door de minister in bepaalde gevallen wel toegestaan. In dit artikel bespreekt Sandra Putting welke mogelijkheden bestuursorganen en de bestuursrechter hebben om maatwerk te bieden en wordt aan de hand van drie geschilpunten over de NOW beoordeeld hoe die mogelijkheden zijn ingezet of beter hadden kunnen worden ingezet.

Read more

14.10.2021 NL law
Termijn voor het indienen vaststellingsaanvraag NOW-1 loopt af op 31 oktober 2021: strategische handreikingen en juridische aanbevelingen

Short Reads - Op 31 oktober 2021 is het de laatste dag waarop de vaststellingsaanvragen van de NOW-1 subsidie kunnen worden ingediend. Veel werkgevers hebben deze aanvraag al ingediend (en al een vaststellingsbesluit ontvangen) maar ook een aanzienlijk deel van de vaststellingsaanvragen moet nog door het UWV worden ontvangen (zie de Kamerbrief van 20 september 2021). 

Read more

07.10.2021 NL law
Intrekking van natuurvergunningen en de praktijk: de stand van zaken en de rol van significantie van eventuele effecten

Short Reads - Onherroepelijke natuurvergunningen lijken anno 2021 geen rustig bezit meer te zijn. Bij provincies liggen op dit moment verzoeken voor om tot intrekking van (onherroepelijke) natuurvergunningen over te gaan. Intrekking zou een noodzakelijke passende maatregel zijn ter uitvoering van artikel 6, lid 2 Habitatrichtlijn. Jurisprudentie geeft inmiddels enige duidelijkheid. Maar de praktijk blijkt weerbarstig en laat zien dat de nodige vragen onbeantwoord blijven. In dit blog bespreken wij de stand van zaken.

Read more