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New 'Explanation of the Dutch Constitution' presented to Prime Minister Rutte

Published: 14th October 2021 Last updated: 14th October 2021

On 13 October, Tilburg University law scholars presented a new almost 1400-page ‘Uitleg van de Grondwet’ (Explanation of the Constitution) to Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the Netherlands. The book is a completely revised edition of previously published commentaries on the Constitution since 1987. The commentaries form a guide not only to interpreting our Constitution, but also to further developing it in legislation, case law and policy.

The Dutch Constitution is a living document that is constantly being interpreted by everyone concerned with it, both citizens and public officials. The Constitution offers binding constitutional points of view in decision-making on laws, legal cases and administrative matters. Moreover, the connection between constitutional principles and current issues also requires interpretation. 

However, explaining the Constitution is more than searching for the intentions of the Constitution's legislator; it also includes the further development of constitutional principles in legislation, case law and policy. Those who play a role in the state system - political and judicial officials, administrators, journalists, opinion makers, citizens - seek support for a proper assessment and try to convince others who play a role in that process. This requires connecting to what has already been said about the Constitution. The 'Explanation of the Constitution' contains systematic and article-by-article commentaries that serve as a source of information and inspiration for the proper maintenance of the Constitution. 

Topical

Topical in this edition is for instance the explanation of article 120, which stipulates that courts may not judge whether laws and treaties are in conflict with the Constitution. During the current information discussions to form e new government, it appeared that abolishing that prohibition is high on the agenda in The Hague. The emergency law from Article 103 paragraph 1, which has been the subject of much debate during the coronation crisis, is also dealt with extensively.

This new and up-to-date commentary is a completely revised edition of the much-quoted commentary on the Constitution of the constitutional website www.nederlandrechtsstaat.nl, edited by Gert-Jan Leenknegt and Ernst Hirsch Ballin of Tilburg University and Eric Janse de Jonge, member of the Advisory Committee on testing regulatory pressure and former member of the Senate and the State Parliamentary System Committee, among others. The book continues the tradition of the commentaries on the Constitution published from 1987 to 2000 by Prof. P.W.C. Akkermans (1942-2002) and Prof. A.K. Koekkoek (1945-2005).

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