In the Netherlands, the Experts in Criminal Cases Act demands high standards regarding the quality, reliability and competency of experts.
The above Act came into force on 1 January 2010 and resulted in the Netherlands Register of Court Experts (NRGD) being the first register of experts to have a statutory basis, an independent position and structural funding. The NRGD is managed by an independent Board of Court Experts. The Register of Experts in Criminal Cases Decree determines primarily how the NRGD is managed.
Alongside the Register, the Experts in Criminal Cases Act also strengthens the position of defence counsel. As such, the Act gives the accused the right to request an additional investigation or counter inquiry.
Registration with the NGRD is not an essential requirement for acting as a forensic expert. However, being successfully assessed by an objective and competent committee, your specialist forensic expertise is legally acknowledged and accredited. Since the Register safeguards the quality of court experts, admittance of non- registered experts must be thoroughly motivated by the court in each specific criminal case. Whereas, on the basis of your name or field of expertise, you can be easily found in the Register by judges, public prosecutors, lawyers and other users.
Increasing number of field-specific standards
Although only well-defined expertise which contributes to gathering meaningful, objective and reliable information will be considered for admission in the Register, it might be possible that your field of expertise has not yet been added to the Register. NRGD will keep you updated about new standards and standardized fields through its website and via NRGD’s Newsletter. At this moment, only the Criminal Court is served by the Register, but expansion to both Civil and Administrative Courts is possible in the near future.
All applicants will be assessed against objective criteria of quality, trustworthiness and competency. In the aforementioned Decree, general standards have been laid down for all court experts irrespective of their forensic field. Some of these requirements are summarized here. An applicant..
- has sufficient knowledge and experience in the field of expertise to which the application relates;
- has sufficient knowledge and experience in the field of law concerned, and is sufficiently familiar with the position and role of the expert in this field;
- is able to inform the commissioning party whether, and if so, to what extent the commissioning party’s question at issue is sufficiently clear and capable of investigation in order to be able to answer it based on their specific expertise;
- is able, based on the question at issue, to prepare and carry out an investigation plan in accordance with the applicable standards;
- is able to collect, document, interpret and assess investigative materials and data in a forensic context, in accordance with the applicable standards;
- is able to apply current investigative methods in a forensic context in accordance with the applicable standards;
- is able to give, both orally and in writing, a verifiable and well-reasoned report on the assignment and any other relevant aspects of their expertise in terms which are comprehensible to the commissioning party;
- is able to complete an assignment within the stipulated or agreed period;
- is able to carry out the activities as an expert: independently, impartially, conscientiously, competently and in a trustworthy manner.
Specific requirements within each field of expertise have been put down in Standards per field (see current Standards documents).