Supervision and enforcement

Supervision and enforcement

Legal norms must be enforced: without enforcement rules are nothing but an empty shell. On the basis of enforcement law the governement can enforce submission to rules regarding zoning, environmental law and public order. Supervision of submission precedes enforcement.

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On the basis of the general duty to enforce, the government is obliged to take enforcement action when there has been a violation of a legal standard, due to the public interest that is served by enforcement. Only under special circumstances, the government may refuse to take enforcement action. Enforcement action could be taken ex officio or based on an enforcement request.

If the government suspects that regulations are being violated, it will first have to investigate if this suspicion is justified. Most of the time, it uses one of its supervisors for this. If the supervisor detects the violation, this is recorded in a report of findings. This report serves as proof of the government’s enforcement action.

The government can take enforcement action through the following instruments:

  1. Administrative enforcement order: the authority of the government to remedy the violation and to recover the costs from the offender;
  2. An order subject to a penalty: the obligation to pay a certain sum of money to the government, if the violation is not invoked in time;
  3. Administrative fine: the government imposes a fine. Remedy of the violation does not affect the obligation to pay the imposed fine.

Prior to these sanctions, the government will have to announce its intention to take enforcement action in an announcement letter. The alleged offender is given a certain period of time to express his views on the intention. Legal protection is open to enforcement actions. Enforcement law provides the general framework to enforce compliance with rules of legal areas, including environmental and planning law and the general municipal by law. Every enforcement discipline requires its own approach.

Public order law

Within the municipality, the mayor is charged with maintaining the ‘public order’. Consequently, the mayor is authorized to prevent or end violations of legal regulations. The rules and powers for maintaining public order are distributed in, among other regulation, the Municipalities Act (Gemeentewet), the Opium Act (Opiumwet) and the Public Administration (Probity Screening) Act (Wet Bibob). The mayor is also authorized to enforce public order on the basis of the General Municipal By-laws (APV).

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