Objecting to and appealing against a government decision

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Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO
Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO

When can you object?

You can file an objection if:

  • you disagree with a decision on your application (for example if your licence application has been rejected)
  • you disagree with a decision on someone else’s application in which you are directly involved (another person obtains a licence which is harmful to your interests, for instance)
  • you are disadvantaged by a decision taken by a public authority itself

You cannot object general rules of for example your municipality. Those rules apply to everyone.

How to object

You can submit an objection by e-mail, web form, or letter. You should check with the public authority that made the decision what your options are. You should find contact details in the decision or you can check the registry of Dutch public authorities for contact information. In your notice of objection you explain what you disagree with and why you disagree. You must also include your name and address, the date, your signature, and in some cases a copy of the decision you disagree with.

You must file your objection by no later than 6 weeks after you received the decision or after the decision was published. You do not need a lawyer for these proceedings.

Directly to the court

When you object, you can also ask the public authority to go to the court directly (direct appeal, in Dutch). You take this route if it is immediately clear that a complaint procedure is pointless because:

  • the dispute concerns the interpretation of rules and regulations (a legal issue)
  • it is already clear you and the public authority will not reach an agreement

Decision deadline

In general, the government must take a decision within 6 weeks after the day on which the submission period for the objection has elapsed. If there is an advisory committee, the decision period is 12 weeks. The public authority can extend the objection period by 6 weeks, for instance if they need more information from you to take the correct decision. You have to be notified if a decision period is extended.

Penalty when deciding late

If the government fails to take a decision by the prescribed deadline, you are entitled to a penalty payment. You will have to send them a so-called notice of default (ingebrekestelling) by completing the (Dutch-language) Penalty payment for late decisions form. The Tax and Customs Administration has its own Penalty form in the event of an overdue decision (in Dutch).

This will give the public authority another 2 weeks to reach the decision. If the government fails to take a decision by then, the penalty payment starts running. The penalty payment increases for each day you did not receive an answer.

You can also appeal to the administrative court (in Dutch) to enforce a decision if you disagree.


You can appeal to the court if:

You have to appeal within 6 weeks after you have been notified of the decision in relation to your objection. You lodge your appeal (in Dutch) with your local or regional administrative court (in Dutch). Occasionally this may be a different institution. If that is the case, the decision will tell you where to appeal.

In your appeal you explain why you not agree with the decision and what you think the court should decide. When filing an appeal you have to pay court fees (in Dutch). You do not need a lawyer for this procedure.

Ruling of the court

The court will issue a decision in writing. Does the court rule in your favour (your appeal is upheld)? Then it may mean that the government agency:

  • must make a decision within a reasonable time
  • must pay a penalty
  • must pay an additional penalty for each day it does not comply with the court’s ruling

If you do not agree with the court ruling, you can appeal in many cases. The court ruling will tell you to which higher court you can appeal. You must do so within 6 weeks.

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Questions relating to this article?

Please contact the Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO