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Civil Litigation as a Means for Dutch Crime Victims to Get Damage Compensation: Usage, Problems, and Solutions

NCJ Number
W.M. Schrama; T. Geurts
Date Published
4 pages
The research summarized is the first in the Netherlands to examine the role of civil litigation in crime victims' recovery of damages due to crime.
There are a number of options for recovering damages due to crime. These include recovery of costs through insurance, the Dutch Violent Offenses Compensation Fund (only for severe violent crime and sexual abuse), and directly from the offender through the criminal justice system. The current research focused on civil litigations by crime victims in the Netherlands in 2010 that involved a minimum of 5,000 Euros. Of the cases processed by Dutch civil courts in 2010, approximately 483 were initiated by crime victims seeking financial compensation from the offender. Third-party claims were not included in the study. Nearly 75 percent of these lawsuits were brought by companies that suffered financial damage from criminal acts. The rest of the cases (n=108) were brought by individual claimants. There are a number of disadvantages in relying on civil litigation as a means of recovering financial compensation for crime losses. First, victims harmed by unknown offenders cannot file a civil lawsuit. This is the case for approximately 67-75 percent of all criminal offenses. Also, the high costs and long duration of a civil proceeding are disadvantages, as well as problems with legal aid and access to the courts, the burden of proof, and the emotional burden. In addition, the collection of any award can be a problem; defaults occur in 31 percent of civil cases. Research must be conducted in order to determine the extent to which the aforementioned disadvantages of civil litigation actually occur; however, the authors tentatively conclude that civil litigation as a means of recovering financial losses due to crime is limited compared to other means available. 1 table