19 March 2024

Historic ruling: Dutch children may not be cut off from water supply due to non-payment

Dennis Horeman+ 1 other expert

The Dutch government’s policy of disconnecting children from drinking water in the event of non-payment is unlawful. In a collective action brought by Defence for Children and the Dutch Section of the International Commission for Jurists (NJCM), the Court of Appeal of The Hague recently ruled that the Dutch State and drinking water companies had acted unlawfully towards children and must reconnect children that were cut off. Defence for Children and NJCM were represented by De Brauw in collaboration with lawyers from PILP.

The Dutch State and drinking water companies PWN and Dunea deliberately left open the possibility that children, through no fault of their own, find themselves in a situation with completely inadequate access to drinking water. The Court of Appeal ordered the State to take measures to ensure children cannot be cut off from adequate drinking water due to non-payment by their parents. The drinking water companies must reconnect the water supply for children or must supply adequate water in another manner.

Johan Valk, who was part of De Brauw's team, says: "In this case, we got to work together closely with human rights lawyers from PILP and children's rights experts from Defence for Children. It was a truly inspiring experience to engage with one another and bring the case forward together. Working together also allowed us to contribute our specific litigation expertise to this important matter and achieve a great result for all children in the Netherlands."