The Dutch Public Prosecution Service and high and unusual out-of-court settlements
PhD student: Mrs S. Kerssies
Promotor: F.G.H. Kristen
Duration: 1/10/2019 - 30/9/2023
Over the past decade, the Dutch Public Prosecution Service has regularly entered into high-value out-of-court settlements with large companies such as Rabobank and ING. This may give the impression that these companies are paying off their punishment and class justice is taking place. Besides that, 'classic' legal questions rise, for example about the availability of evidence and the access to a judge. At the same time, out-of-court settling results in avoiding the often costly and time-consuming criminal proceedings and encouraging companies to take (compliance) measures to prevent criminal offences happening in the future. The PhD research on high and unusual out-of-court settlements examines the considerations that play a role in the decision of the Public Prosecution Service to offer an out-of-court settlement in certain criminal cases, how these considerations affect the terms of the settlement and how this is communicated to society. The aim of the research is to formulate an answer to the question of how the Public Prosecutor can make use of his power to settle a criminal case out of court in a responsible manner. The research is limited to out-of-court settlements that are governed by the Instruction on high out-of-court settlements and unusual out-of-court settlements. In order to carry out the study, traditional legal research into Article 74 of the Dutch Criminal Code and the proposed bill on the introduction of a judicial review of out-of-court settlements will be carried out. Furthermore, empirical legal research will be carried out into the application of the Public Prosecutors powers to settle extensive and complex criminal cases out of court and the communication thereof to society. This empirical research will consist of interviews with persons involved in the legal practice of out-of-court settling, as well as a vignette study. In order to gain further insight into the considerations and arguments underlying the offering of a high and/or unusual out-of-court settlement, press releases, fact sheets and legal agreements will be subjected to a discourse analysis.