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Mega lawsuit against home inspections

25 April 2007 - Lawyer Peter Kuijper wants to claim damages for thousands or even tens of thousands of people because welfare agencies have searched their homes without justification. Recently, the Central Appeal Council (CRvB) ruled that people can only be obliged to accept such inspections on the ground of a concrete suspicion.

Kuijper is now starting to recruit participants. They will be asked a one-off contribution of 50 euro, for which a refund can be requested from the bijzondere bijstand.

Earlier, he started class-action lawsuits on behalf of social assistance recipients and old age pensioners. He won the second lawsuit. He was also the lawyer in the cases brought before the CRvB.

Whether the Amsterdam welfare agency will change its policy after the CRvB ruling is unclear. Alderwoman Hennah Buyne told Mug Magazine: “I am very happy with the ruling. The judge said that home inspections are allowed”.

According to Kuijper, municipalities do not sufficiently respect the rights of welfare recipients. He therefore wants to claim damages in order to make it expensive for municipalities to continue carrying out unjustified home searches.

If this would happen at a large scale, the amount the Amsterdam municipality would have to pay in damages might be as much as tens of millions of euros per year, he estimates.

Kuijper wants to claim wrongfully denied benefits and in addition damages for emotional suffering caused by the inspections, including the stress they may have caused and the damage done to their reputation, also in the eyes of potential employers.

New is that the lawyer also wants to claim punitive damages. This would be a compensation imposed on the welfare agency as a punishment. Kuijper is thinking of 500 euro per person.

According to the lawyer, punitive damages have never before been imposed in the Netherlands, but the concept is known in other European countries such as Britain and Greece. In order to recruit clients, he would like to work with advocacy organisations.

Last year, the ombudsman concluded that the way in which the Amsterdam welfare agency carried out home inspections was ‘not decent’. Many clients find the behaviour of inspectors humiliating and intimidating.

Photo: Ravage Digitaal. Contact Peter Kuijper


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