A courthouse is a public building accommodating multiple functions. On the one hand, it is an office building, where those employed by the Court and other services work. On the other hand, it is a courthouse, where court sessions take place.

This function as a site for court sessions requires public access. The legal principle of public access to justice is embedded in international treaties and in the constitution.

1.1 Public access

Justice is public. Persons coming to attend a court hearing, to obtain information or to conduct administrative or legal transactions at the information desk are ordinarily entitled to enter the courthouse.

The management of these premises, however, may subject access to certain conditions in the interest of order and safety. Such measures may not restrict access to the extent that they seriously compromise service to the public or curtail access to the court.

In this procedure the rules and regulations serve the following purpose:

  • guaranteeing access to the courthouse and court sessions for those wishing to exercise this right
  • attending to considerations of order and safety.

1.2 Authority of the court management and the judge

The court management is in charge of the courthouses and is therefore tasked with ensuring smooth operations, including order and safety. This authority includes the right to deny access or to have persons removed and to subject access to conditions.

The judge presiding over the session is responsible for its orderly procedure. This judge may take measures, have measures taken or issue instructions for a court session to proceed without disruption, including restricting public access to a session.

1.3 Security coordinator (BVC)

On behalf of the court management, the BVC may set additional rules or issue instructions necessary to ensure order and safety in the courthouses.

1.4 North-Holland District Court venues

This procedure applies in the courthouses in Haarlem, Alkmaar, Zaandam and Badhoevedorp (Schiphol Judicial Complex).

Security requirements may vary according to the building and the situation in that building and may also depend on exceptional requirements arising from specific circumstances in a certain period.

2 General principles     

Everybody who visits or works in our buildings should feel safe. Rules and regulations offer clarification as to what our visitors may expect from us, and what we expect from them.

2.2 Rules and regulations

The court expects visitors:

  • not to disrupt court sessions
  • to treat other visitors and our staff with respect
  • to respect the privacy of others
  • to refrain from making loud phone calls in the waiting areas and to ensure that their telephone use does not bother others
  • to refrain from using mobile phones at service desks
  • not to leave bags, suitcases or packages unattended
  • not to bring in pets (service and guide dogs are welcome)
  • to refrain from smoking and not to bring in narcotics or alcoholic beverages
  • to refrain from cursing, raising their voices or shouting
  • not to use abusive or discriminatory language
  • to refrain from violence and not to harass, threaten or intimidate others
  • not to bring in weapons or other objects that might endanger the safety or health of others or the order and peace in the building
  • to refrain from making video and/or audio recordings without permission
  • not to make improper use of facilities in or around the courthouse
  • to ensure that their behaviour does not cause damage or potential damage to other people’s belongings
  • not to wear garments covering their faces
  • to follow the instructions provided by employees of the court.

2.3 Supervision and measures

We check that everybody complies with the rules and regulations and code of conduct. To this end, we use cameras and other measures in accordance with applicable legislation and regulations.

Anybody failing to comply with our rules and regulations and code of conduct will be held accountable.

Failure to follow instructions from our staff will lead us to take appropriate measures by:

  • ending conversations with such individuals and requesting them to leave the building
  • presenting a written warning or sending it to their home address
  • in the event of repeated or serious offences, barring such individuals from entering our buildings for a certain period
  • temporarily suspending our services or rendering our services subject to conditions.

3 Access and security inspections  

Visitors will be admitted to the building, once a valid reason for their presence is determined, and after they have submitted to the security inspections.

Such inspections may entail:

  • verification of identity
  • examination of clothing, bags, luggage and/or items or objects they are carrying.

Such examination may include using devices that serve this purpose.

3.1 Verification of identity

Visitors are required to present valid proof of identity. Such proof may consist of a:

  • passport
  • Dutch identity document
  • Dutch alien’s document
  • (European) driving licence
  • P or E identity card for government employees (a RIjkspas)

3.2 Inspections

Security inspections are conducted by security staff, possibly assisted by the police or Royal Netherlands Marechaussee. They takes place according to instructions drafted by or on behalf of the manager.

3.3 Refusal to cooperate

Persons refusing to cooperate with the security inspections shall not be admitted and are required to leave the building.

3.4 Purpose of inspections                                                  

Security inspections serve the following purposes:

  • ensuring that court sessions proceed without disruptions
  • ensuring the health and safety of all persons in the courthouse
  • preventing potentially threatening objects and harmful substances and items from being brought into the building.

3.5 Clothing checks

In some cases clothes need to be examined. These checks are performed – if possible – outside the view of other visitors.

Searches of female visitors will be performed by female security staff or a female police officer. Men may not assist with this. If no female staff are present, the visitor will be asked to present her belongings to the security staff or police officer for inspection.

3.6 Exemption from inspections

No exemptions will be granted. Everyone must be accredited and in possession of a valid access badge.

3.7 Press facilities

Persons who are professionally active as journalists may use the press facilities in the courthouse.
If a person cannot present a press card, the Communications Department shall decide whether that individual may use the press facilities. Services to the press are described in the 2013 Press Guidelines.

3.8 (Suspected) punishable offences

In the event of suspected punishable offences, the police shall be notified. This may cause such individuals not to appear or not to appear on time at court sessions.

3.9 Objects retained in custody

Objects that may not be brought into the courthouse shall be retained in custody.

Objects shall retained in custody according to the following procedure:

  • objects retained in custody shall be accurately described on a form or placed in a sealed envelope
  • the visitor shall receive a receipt with which the objects surrendered may be collected upon leaving the courthouse. The BVC may set conditions for collecting the objects retained in custody.
  • objects retained in custody that are not collected will be kept for a maximum of one year; after this period objects not collected automatically become the property of the court management.

3.10 Lockers

Lockers are available at several court venues. Possessions may be stored here temporarily. Users remain responsible for objects stored in the locker.

The court is authorised to open lockers and examine their content, including when the luggage is stored inside a closed bag or suitcase. Objects that in the view of the court are dangerous or might cause a nuisance, such as explosives, chemicals or perishable goods, may be removed by the court.

If a key has been lost, the contents of a locker may be released to an individual only once it has been established in the view of the court that he/she is the rightful owner or holder of the items present in the locker.
Repair and/or replacement costs may be charged to the user.

Before the building is closed, lockers should be emptied. Lockers still in use at that point may be opened by the court.

3.11 Luggage

Luggage of which the origin or ownership cannot be determined may be removed from the courthouse.   

3.12 Weapons

Only those assigned to perform police duties may bring weapons onto the premises.

3.13 Additional precautions at high-risk hearings

The BVC may take additional security measures at high-risk hearings, or if there is cause to do so for other reasons.

3.14 Non-disclosure

Staff tasked with inspection who during the course of their duties gain access to data that they know or may reasonably suspect is confidential are required to observe non-disclosure, except where statutory regulations require such disclosure, or if disclosure is a necessary part of performing their duties.

4 Order and safety in the courtroom

The judge presiding over the session determines how proceedings in the courtroom will be conducted and may take decisions that render existing rules inapplicable.

4.1 Public access

Barring a few legal and/or court-ordered exceptions, court sessions are public and accessible to everybody.

In exceptional cases the court may determine that persons under 18 may not attend a criminal hearing or need to be accompanied. Persons under 12 may attend a criminal court hearing only with the permission of the court.

4.2 Public gallery

Space is limited in the public gallery in a courtroom. If the courtroom is full, access shall be denied.

4.3 Instructions

Bailiffs / security staff and the court police shall operate as instructed by the presiding judge and may instruct parties, visitors, journalists and others that may be present in the courtroom. Compliance with these instructions is compulsory.

4.4 Mobile devices

In courtrooms and chambers used for examinations all mobile devices need to be in silent mode.

In some cases mobile devices may be prohibited in the courtroom or in the public gallery. This equipment may then be stored in the lockers available or may be presented to security for safekeeping.

5 Complaints

If you feel you have been treated inappropriately by an employee of the North-Holland District Court, you may lodge a complaint.
Complaints are reviewed in accordance with the complaints procedure of the North-Holland District Court. This procedure is available at www.rechtspraak.nl.