Commitment from the Receptionist?


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### Commitment from the Receptionist?

When the municipal receptionist tells you that you will "definitely get that environmental permit" and "should just go ahead and start building your new shed," it is clear to you that her commitment will have no impact on the permit procedure. However, if the official handling your permit application makes this statement, it is a different matter. This simple example shows that not every statement made by a municipal employee can be seen as a commitment that gives you, as a citizen, the confidence to undertake a particular action. In reality, things are less clear-cut, and it is more challenging to determine whether there is a commitment. Case law uses a fixed assessment framework to judge whether a commitment has been made.

A commitment occurs when officials or third parties (e.g., lawyers engaged by the municipality) say or do something that gives the citizen the impression that the municipality has taken a stance on the decision to be made. The most crucial aspect here is the expertise of the person making the commitment. Additionally, it must be a commitment in a specific situation. Returning to the example: the receptionist will, of course, not have the necessary expertise to make such commitments, but the official handling the permit application likely will.

When assessing whether there is a commitment, more weight is deliberately given to how the statement or behaviour of the municipality is perceived by the citizen. This does not mean that if the receptionist makes a commitment that comes across as very convincing, the citizen can rely on this commitment. The commitment must also be attributable to the competent administrative body. It is clear that the receptionist cannot speak on behalf of the competent administrative body.

In summary, a commitment is made if the statement or behaviour is made by someone who could make such a statement or behaviour on behalf of the municipality, who has a certain level of expertise, and who makes this statement or behaviour in a specific situation.

Are you dealing with a government agency that has made an (incorrect) commitment, do you have an ongoing procedure with the municipality, or are you unsure whether you can rely on a commitment made? Contact Gerard van der Wende or Fleur Huisman.

For an example of a ruling regarding commitments, where the statements of the alderman and case manager are considered commitments, read here.

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De Haij & van der Wende

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Dennis Oud

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Erwin den Hartog

Corporate law, Real estate law
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Fleur Huisman

Environmental law
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Petra Lindthout

Environmental law
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Tessa Sipkema

Employment law, Corporate law
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Gerard van der Wende

Administrative law and Family law
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Elke Hofman-Bijvank

Emplyment law
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Please note that the content of our website (including any legal submissions) is for non-binding informational purposes only and does not serve as legal advice in the strict sense. The content of this site cannot and should not serve as a substitute for individual and binding legal advice relating to your specific situation. All information is therefore provided without guarantee of accuracy, completeness and timeliness.

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