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Plenty of opportunities for submitting illegally obtained evidence in civil proceedings

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Plenty of opportunities for submitting illegally obtained evidence in civil proceedings

Under criminal law, evidence obtained by illegal means is not permitted or cannot be used in many cases. However, the reverse is often the case under civil law. This was confirmed once again in a judgment pronounced by the Supreme Court on 11 July 2014.

During a debate on whether a collective labour agreement applied to an employment contract, an employee submitted a report by the Labour Inspectorate that had been requested by the Dutch Trade Union Federation (FNV). The FNV was only allowed to request this report for proceedings to be instituted by the FNV itself. In this particular case, there was no question of that, which means that the FNV had obtained the report illegally. But the Supreme Court was of the opinion that the employee was nevertheless entitled to submit the report, since he himself had not obtained it illegally from the FNV. The Supreme Court pointed out that even if evidence has been illegally obtained, there is no general law prohibiting the court from examining this evidence. Additional circumstances are required for the exclusion of evidence obtained by illegal means.

The Supreme Courts’ decision (in Dutch).