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Tijdschrift Recht der Werkelijkheid x Jaar 2021 x
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Tussen partijautonomie en ­ongelijkheidscompensatie: hoe kantonrechters omgaan met niet-vertegenwoordigde partijen

Tijdschrift Recht der Werkelijkheid, Aflevering 2 2021
Trefwoorden Self-representation, Party autonomy, Equality of arms, Judging, Civil procedure
Auteurs Jos Hoevenaars
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    This article focuses on the impact of the (increasing) possibility for parties in Dutch civil cases to litigate without the guidance of a legal aid provider on Dutch civil procedure. It analyses the extent to which such self-representation influences the role of the judge in the context of Dutch subdistrict court procedures, where representation is not mandatory. Through empirical data, collected through semi-structured interviews with 26 subdistrict judges, more insight is gained into the dilemmas that the lack of representation of parties presents to judges, and the ways in which they deal with these dilemmas. The interviews show how judges seek a balance between their role as neutral arbitrator in a dispute and a more active role necessitated by parties not being represented by a legal aid provider. In doing so, they navigate between process and content. Within this dynamic, judges must constantly balance the trade-off between acting more actively to gather sufficient information for a substantive handling and assessment of the case, on the one hand, and safeguarding the limits of party autonomy and their own (perceived) neutrality, on the other. Full party autonomy is viewed by judges as unrealistic and, moreover, contrary to truth-finding.


Jos Hoevenaars
Jos Hoevenaars is postdoctoraal onderzoeker aan de Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam. Dit onderzoek maakt deel uit van het ERC consolidator project ‘Building EU Civil Justice: challenges of procedural innovations – bridging access to justice’ (Grant Agreement No.726032), www.euciviljustice.eu.
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