FAQ complaints

Who can lodge a complaint with the High Council of Justice?

Which complaints are handled by the High Council of Justice?

Which complaints does it not handle?

How can I lodge a complaint?

Can I lodge a complaint anonymously?

You have lodged a complaint. What happens next?

What happens if the complaint is upheld?

And what if the complaint is not upheld?

Who handles my complaint?

Can I contact the Committee?

What is the point of lodging a complaint?

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Who can lodge a complaint with the High Council of Justice?

Anyone can lodge a complaint with the High Court of Justice, provided that they have a personal interest in the matter. Therefore, to lodge a complaint, you must be personally involved.

For example, a grandfather cannot lodge a complaint on behalf of a son or daughter who, following a youth court hearing, no longer has access to his or her child. However, the High Council can handle this type of complaint if it is co-signed by the son or daughter in question. Lawyers can also lodge a complaint on behalf of their client.

Which complaints are handled by the High Council of Justice?

The High Council of Justice is competent to deal with all complaints relating to the administration of Justice.

Which complaints does it not handle?

The High Council of Justice cannot handle certain complaints:

  • Complaints falling within the criminal or disciplinary remit of other bodies

  • Complaints regarding the content of a judicial decision

  • Complaints which can be dealt with via ordinary or extraordinary judicial remedies

  • Complaints which have already been investigated, unless there are new grounds

  • Complaints which are clearly unjustified

For example, the High Court of Justice cannot handle the following complaints:

  • I am not satisfied with the judge’s decision
  • I am the victim of a crime or an offence, and I would like to lodge a complaint
  • My assets have been seized

There are other solutions for these complaints: you can appeal, consult a lawyer, have access to legal aid, a debt mediator or a notary, file a complaint with the police, etc.

How can I lodge a complaint?

Complaints must be submitted in writing, dated and signed. Do not forget to state your full name and an address where the Council can contact you. Otherwise, your complaint will be rejected.

State your complaint in your own words, but please remember that the clearer it is, the easier it will be for us to handle it quickly and effectively. In your submission, it is important to specify:

  • The date of the events
  • The place or jurisdiction (the court, chamber of the court, service, city or municipality, etc.)
  • The name of the person against whom the complaint is made

Can I submit a complaint anonymously?

No. All complaints lodged with the High Council must include at least your surname, first name and address. Otherwise, your complaint will be immediately declared inadmissible.

In addition, the High Council is legally bound to communicate your complaint and your identity to several parties, notably the “manager” of the individual named in your complaint.

You have lodged a complaint. What happens next?

The High Council must have received all the information needed to ensure that the complaint lodged with it is "valid". Your complaint is only admissible – that is the legal term – from this point in time. It will be deemed inadmissible if you have not signed or dated it or included your name.

If your complaint is not within the competence of the High Council, it is referred to the competent body, which keeps the Council informed of how the complaint has been handled.

If your complaint falls within the competence of the Council, as specified in law, it will be fully investigated.

In concrete terms, this means that the Council can request explanations and further information, and interview the parties. In short, the Council will do everything possible to determine whether or not your complaint is justified.

What happens if the complaint is upheld?

If the complaint is upheld, the Council will propose a solution to the competent authorities, make a recommendation with a view to improving the administration of Justice, or launch a special inquiry or an audit.

And what if the complaint is not upheld?

If the complaint is not upheld, the matter ends there. You will receive a written decision specifying the grounds.

Who handles my complaint?

Complaints are handled by the specific language committees. Complaints involving Dutch-language cases are entrusted to the Dutch-language Advisory and Investigation Committee (AOC). Complaints involving French-language cases are entrusted to the French-language Advisory and Investigation Committee (CAE). Complaints which involve both Dutch-language cases and French-language cases are submitted to the Joint Advisory and Investigation Committee (JAIC) which handles the case itself or entrusts it to the French-language or Dutch-language Committee.

Can I contact the Committee?

The High Council’s complaints procedure is a written procedure. To handle your complaint, the High Council is legally required to receive a written complaint from you, indicating your personal contact details and a minimum of information.

The legislation in place does not allow the HCJ to receive complaints made orally, by telephone or by email. Each and every complaint must be made in writing.

There is therefore no point in coming to the Council’s offices in person.  If the Commission which examines your complaint deems it necessary, it will certainly contact you to request all further information required and, where appropriate, will invite you to clarify your complaint orally. 

Nevertheless, you can obtain information on our complaints procedure by calling the switchboard of the High Council. You will be informed in writing as soon as the High Council initiates a complaints procedure following your complaint. You will also be given the telephone number and email address of the member of our secretariat managing your complaint.

What is the point of lodging a complaint?

When a complaint is upheld, the Advisory and Investigation Committee can issue recommendations or proposals with a view to improving the operation of the judiciary. In addition, the Committee can, if it deems such action appropriate, open a special inquiry or launch an audit within the judicial bodies concerned.

It is also important to emphasise that, within the framework of its official duties, the High Council of Justice has:

  • an obligation to inform the competent public prosecutor’s department of any crime or offence of which it becomes aware;
  • the option, when it considers that a judge or a member of the clerk’s office or secretariat of the public prosecutor’s department has failed to fulfil his or her duties, to request the competent disciplinary authorities to examine whether there are grounds for instituting disciplinary proceedings. If applicable, the disciplinary authorities must inform the High Council how they have dealt with the case.