This week, the courtroom increasingly developed into the arena of the corona protest of entrepreneurs. Catering bosses, shopkeepers and market vendors demanded the reopening of their business through the courts. Showmen also prepare a case. And so it will be busy weeks for the state attorney.
It started with Koninklijke Horeca Nederland. On Monday, the trade association put the first demands on the table in court: the doors open and more support money. That seemed like the starting shot for other business associations. The market vendors followed Wednesday, the shopkeepers on Friday. In the meantime, the hospitality industry started a second lawsuit against the government, this time over the delayed payment of support money.
“Because you see other parties taking that step, our plan to go to court is also gaining momentum,” says Maykel de Voer, board member of the National Association of Fairground Business Owners BOVAK. Within a week and a half, the fairground operators also expect to challenge the state. “We want to open the fairs again. And if there are really good reasons not to do so, we want more financial support.”
Interest groups have increasingly ended up in court over the past 10 years.
Utrecht professor Jerfi Uzman is not surprised that the judge is often found in an attempt to adjust policy. “This is part of a longer trend,” says the constitutional law professor. “Interest groups have ended up in court more and more in the past 10 to 15 years. It’s a vicious circle: if one is successful, more and more will follow, and more success.”
Two important turning points in that development were the SGP case and the Urgenda case. In the first case interest groups forced the state to no longer tolerate the SGP banning women from the electoral list. With the climate case, Urgenda forced the state to take extra measures to reduce CO2 emissions.
“Both cases were seen as hopeless beforehand,” says Uzman. “So you can bet that lawyers in the cases against the state are now looking at the documents of those trials.”
‘Politics has hardened’
Another factor in this development is the relationship between politics and society, Uzman thinks. “The last decade has hardened politics. Politicians want to govern decisively without extensive consensus. This also leads to dissatisfied groups.”
The corona crisis increases this urge for decisiveness. Uzman: “The cabinet has really pushed the boundaries. Not all measures were taken properly under constitutional law.”
Whether that is also the case with the closure of the catering industry, shops, fairs and markets remains to be seen. Next week, the interest groups will hear when the hearings of their cases will be against the state.