AuthorMarlies Vegter
1 Introduction
1.1 Basic structure of the national legal system
The Netherlands is a civil-law country. Its laws are written. The role of case law is small
in theory, but in practice it is impossible to understand the law in many fields without
taking into account the relevant case law. The primary law-making bod y is formed by the
Dutch Parliament in cooperation with th e Government. When operating jointly to create
laws, they are commonly referred to as the legislature.
The Dutch court system consists of va rious types of courts. At first instance, judgments
are rendered by what a re simply called ‘the courts’ (the ordina ry courts). Appeals arising
from the judgments of the (ordinary) courts can be brought before the appeal courts. At
the t op of the hierarchy is the Dutch Sup reme Court (Hoge Raad). With in the courts a
distinction is mad e between criminal law, civil law and a dministrative law. In addition,
there are specific courts for administrative cases on appeal from the ordinary courts. These
courts ar e the Central Appeals Tribunal (Centrale Raad van Beroep) and the Council of
State, Administrative Jurisdiction Division (Raad van State, Afdeling Bestuursrechtspraak).
1.2 List of main legislation transposing and implementing the directives
- Act on the Institute for Human Rights.1 This Act has partly been enacted to
implement Resolution A/RES/48/134 of the Gen eral Assembly of the United Nations
of 20 December 1993 on national institutes for the promotion and protection of
human rights; Recommendation R (97) 14 of the Committee of Ministers o f the
Council of Europe of 30 September 1997 on the establishment of independent
national human rights bodies; Directive 2000/43/EC on equal treatment on the basis
of race or ethnic origin; Directive 2004/113/EC on equal treatment of men and
women in the access to and supply of goods and services; and Directive 2006/54/EG
on equal treatment of men and women in matters of employment and occupation.
- General Equal Treatment Act (GETA) .2 The GETA aims to implement Article 1 of the
Dutch Constitution (the principle of equal treatment). Furthermore, parts of the GETA
aim to implement EU law. Article 1a on harassment, for example, transposes
Directive 2004/113; Article 6a on membership of employers’ organisations and trade
unions transposes (in part) Directive 2000/78; Article 7a on social protection aims
to implement the Directive on Race/ethnic origin (2000/43); Article 8a on
victimisation t ransposes Directive 2000/78; and Articl e 10 on the burden of proof
also aims to implement Directive 2000/78.
- Act on Equal Treatment of Men and Women (ETA).3 This Act was adopted in order to
transpose Directive 76/207 on equal treatment of men and women. In 2006 the ETA
was modified in order to transpose Directive 2002/73/EC.
- Civil Code, Article 7:646 (prohibiting sex discrimination in employment relationships)
and Article 7:670(2) (prohibiting the termination of the employment relationship
during pregnancy, maternity leave and six weeks after resuming work). Article 7:646
was adopted in order to transpose Directive 76/207 and was later revised in order
to transpose Directive 2002/73.
1.3 Sources of law
The main sources of gender equality law in the Netherlands a re:
- The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women
(CEDAW). CEDAW does not have direct effect as a whole, but courts have ruled that
1 Act on the Institute for Human Rights (Wet College Rechten voor de Mens), 2012 Stb. 2011, 573.
2 General Equal Treatment Act (Algemene Wet Gelijke Behandeling), 1994 Stb. 1994, 230.
3 Act on Equal Treatment of Men and Women (Wet Gelijke Behandeling van mannen en vrouwen), 1980 Stb.
1980, 86.

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