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Development of a policy of legislative quality and general principles of legislative drafting technique: the Dutch experience Jan A.B. Janus Jakarta 4-7.

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Presentation on theme: "Development of a policy of legislative quality and general principles of legislative drafting technique: the Dutch experience Jan A.B. Janus Jakarta 4-7."— Presentation transcript:

1 Development of a policy of legislative quality and general principles of legislative drafting technique: the Dutch experience Jan A.B. Janus Jakarta 4-7 July 2011

2 Legislation as means of changes in society In the political and administrative culture of the Netherlands and many other countries, legislation is seen as the most obvious means of changes in society. After the second world war there was an enormous increase of legislation to facilitate the building of the – social - welfare state. Strong social and political pressure is commonly exerted towards finding a solution to social problems via legislation.

3 Some Observations Increase of legislation: -> Increase of criticism -> Increase of academic interest

4 Legislative policy issues - different accents - From the end of the 1970's there is a permanent attention for legislative policy issues, the quality of legislation and deregulation. First efforts were made to deal with the problems of harmonisation and deregulation Gradually the attention for harmonisation and deregulation has expended into attention for the quality of legislation in a wider sense

5 General legislative policy General legislative policy comprises the general principles and standards for the realisation of legislation and gives a frame of references to those who are involved in the legislative work.

6 Legislation in perspective In 1991, the Minister of Justice presented to Parliament the policy memorandum Legislation in perspective. Therein, an analysis of the causes of the overregulation is given, the quality criteria of legislation are developed and the organisational measures for the actual realisation of the desired quality are proposed

7 Quality criteria of legislation lawfulness and the realisation of the principles of justice; effectiveness and efficiency; subsidiarity and proportionality; practicability and enforceability; coordination; simplicity, clarity and accessibility.

8 lawfulness and the realisation of the principles of justice Lawfulness is the most essential quality criterion in legislation. In addition, much legislation is aimed at the realisation of the principles of justice, f.e. the protection of vulnerable interests or the promotion of legal security.

9 Effectiveness and efficiency The law should - at least to a significant extent - lead to the realisation of the targets aimed at by the legislator (the criterion of effectiveness) and should not lead to unnecessary inefficiency in society or in the government.

10 Subsidiarity and proportionality No drastic interventions should be undertaken by the government unnecessarily. The principle of subsidiarity implies that where possible, responsibility should be entrusted to local authorities and social organisations.

11 Practicability and enforceability Practicability and enforceability are essential in laws purporting to achieve changes in the behaviour of the people, businesses, institutions and the State itself. Laws that are not or not sufficiently practicable and enforceable threaten to become symbols

12 Coordination Coordination between the rules within a law system must exist in order to prevent inconsistencies and unnecessary friction among lower legislative orders, implementation and enforcement authorities, the courts and the citizens

13 Simplicity, clarity and accessibility Laws be simple, clear and accessible!

14 Legislative drafting technique Legislative technique deals with the question how legal norms can be formulated and structured in a regulation in the best possible way.

15 Directives on Legislation Issued by the Prime Minister of the Netherlands in 1992 Amended 9 times, the last time in 2011 A working group under the leadership of the Ministry of Security and Justice continuously works to update them Now: 8 chapters with in total 345 instructions

16 Status of the Directives Binding on all civil servants and ministers Not binding on Members of Parliament and on the Advisory division of the Council of State Also not binding on legislative drafters who work for regional and local governments And: deviation of the Directives is possible if this is necessary

17 Contents of the Directives Three categories of Instructions: 1.Instructions about the character and contents of legislation 2.Instructions regarding legislative technique 3.Instructions regarding legislative procedures

18 Framework for a Regulation Formal framework in Instruction 94 a. Heading of the regulation b. Preamble c. Body of the regulation d. Final formula e. Signatures f. Appendices (if necessary).

19 Body of the Regulation I Definitions (Instr ) Creation and functioning of advisory committees (Instr 123a-124) Creation and functioning of semi-independent administrative bodies (Instr 124a-124z) Attribution of executive powers (Instr ab)

20 Body of the Regulation II Supervision and investigation (Instr a) Sanctions (Instr ) Legal protection in administrative matters (Instr ) Supply of information to Parliament (Instr ) Evaluation provision (Instr 164)

21 Body of the Regulation III Transitional provisions (Instr ) Entry into force (Instr ) Temporary arrangements (Instr ) Citation title (Instr ) Publication (Instr )

22 Definitions General rule (Instr 54): in legislation one must use normal usage of a word as much as possible If not possible: define words which are vague or which have a different meaning in normal usage (Instr 121) Other kind of definition: short version of a long name or sequence of words which appears regularly in the regulation

23 Formulating norms Six kinds of norms: – Obligation – Prohibition – Permission (not to do something) – Permit (to do something) – Competence – Right

24 How to formulate norms Directives on Legislation dont give clear rules for this Only the rule that one should avoid the words must or is obliged to when one wants to regulate an obligation

25 But: standard expressions Obligation: use of the present indicative Not: you must pay a tax of a certain amount But: you pay a tax of a certain amount Prohibition: describe it, e.g. by it is forbidden to or x shall not … Sometimes the prohibition is implicit: Not: it is forbidden to steal But: in case of theft the punishment will be imprisonment……

26 Permission: the possibility not to do something which are you otherwise obliged to do, e.g. the permission not to pay tax in a certain case (in Dutch: vrijstelling). Often formulated like: Contrary to article x no tax shall be paid for … Standard expressions (2)

27 Standard expressions (3) Permit: the possibility to do something which one is otherwise forbidden to do. Normally one first regulates that it is forbidden to do something and then when someone can get a permit Right: norm which tells what someone is entitled to………. Different ways in which this is expressed

28 Standard expressions (4) Competence: possibility to do something, either for the government or an agency, or for private persons. Almost always expressed with the use of the word can (kunnen).

29 Legislation and explanation An Act of Parliament must only contain legal norms So: write down who must do something or must refrain from doing something The legal norms must be carried out, so make this possible in the Act

30 Explanatory memorandum I In the Netherlands: – to inform about the background of the new or proposed rules – to explain the rules and tell why they are expected to solve the problems – to convince Parliament and citizens about the necessity of the regulation But: no new rules in the explanation

31 Instruction 212 Elements of the explanatory memorandum: – objectives and effects – necessity of Government intervention – alternatives to the proposed regulation – execution and enforcing the regulation – administrative burdens to citizens, companies and the Government – the structure of the regulation and delegation – relation to other regulations, also international

32 Explanatory memorandum II Structure of memoranda: 1.Summary and introduction 2.General policy and this regulation 3.Other information of a general nature 4.Explanation of every article (if necessary) Explanatory memoranda of bills are not updated and when Act of Parliament is published, it doesnt have an explanatory memorandum anymore


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