Two bills dealing with the position of examining judges in criminal proceedings and revising rules concerning case files will enter into force on 1 January 2013. The new legislation is aimed at a complete revision of the preliminary investigation phase in criminal proceedings. 

Act reinforcing the position of the examining judge

Under this Act, the role of the examining judge is given a new structure and the relationship between the public prosecutor and the examining judge is more clearly expressed. The intention is that the examining judge no longer operates as an investigating judge but as a "judge in the preliminary investigation". The public prosecutor leads the preliminary investigation and the examining judge supervises how the investigation is conducted.

The examining judge may also take investigative action at the suspect's request or ex officio. To improve the investigation phase from the defence's point of view, a new regime will replace the existing provisions concerning preliminary defence inquiries ("mini-instructie"). One framework will be created: the preliminary investigation. The new regime aims to enable the defence to quickly and adequately involve the examining judge in the investigation.

Act revising rules concerning the criminal case file

This Act aims to increase the examining judge's involvement with the compilation of the criminal case file. This new Act:

  • gives the public prosecutor the responsibility for compiling the case file during the preliminary investigation
  • defines the term 'case file'
  • introduces powers to leave certain information outside the case file and limits the provision of copies if important interests justify this
  • reinforces the legal position of the suspect in respect to the compilation of the case file – it is proposed to incorporate in the Act the option of an active involvement of the defendant in the compilation of the case file. To that end the defendant may request that certain documents be added to the case file

See also the RCE newsletter January 2012.