In a recent ruling, the Central Appeals Board has decided that a request to reconsider a final penalty decision should be evaluated in the same manner as a request to reconsider any other decision. This significant ruling pertained to a case in which the Employee Insurance Agency (UWV) imposed an administrative fine of €3,571.03 on an individual for failure to report income.
Initially, the UWV declared the objection of the party involved inadmissible due to the late submission of the objection letter, thereby making the penalty decision final. However, after a request for reconsideration based on the personal and social situation of the individual, the UWV rejected the request.
The Central Appeals Board has now ruled that the "evident-unreasonable" criterion is also applicable to penalty decisions. This criterion states that adhering to a final decision that is unquestionably incorrect is evidently unreasonable. A superficial substantive assessment or a brief investigation may suffice to determine the undeniable incorrectness of a decision. Additionally, it plays a role if the administrative body has expressly acknowledged the incorrectness of the previous decision-making process.
In the specific case, the UWV acknowledged that the original penalty decision was incorrect due to an excessive fine relative to the individual's financial capacity. Furthermore, it was admitted that the health situation and personal circumstances of the individual would have led to a different decision if known earlier. The Central Appeals Board ruled that the original penalty decision was unquestionably incorrect, and thus, the UWV's refusal to reconsider the decision was evidently unreasonable.
As a consequence of the ruling, the Central Appeals Board has reduced the fine to €714.21.
This ruling was made by the so-called "large chamber" of the Central Appeals Board, consisting of five judges, including two members from the Central Appeals Board, one member from the Administrative High Court for Trade and Industry, and two state councilors from the Administrative Jurisdiction Division.
Prior to the ruling, the Central Appeals Board sought independent advice from a state councilor attorney-general. This advice can be read via ECLI:NL:CRVB:2022:2623. Although the Central Appeals Board is not bound by this advice, it serves as a guideline in decision-making.
Link to the ruling: [https://uitspraken.rechtspraak.nl/#!/details?id=ECLI:NL:CRVB:2023:1363].
If you have received a fine that you believe is evidently unreasonable, don't hesitate to contact us!