Lodging an objection

In many cases you have the right to lodge an objection if you do not agree with a formal decision of a domain board or the executive board of NWO. Your case will then be reviewed. This procedure is arranged under the General Administrative Law Act. How can you lodge an objection? And what will happen with your letter of objection?

Formal hearings of objections committee during corona crisis

Normally, the NWO objections committee considers an objection during a formal hearing at the NWO office in The Hague. Due to the measures taken by the Dutch government in response to the coronavirus, both the NWO offices in The Hague and Utrecht will be closed until April 28th 2020. Depending on the circumstances, this period may be extended.

If you have submitted an objection to NWO and your hearing is scheduled during the period that the NWO offices are closed, the hearing will take place by means of a video conferencing connection. You will receive notification of this at least one week prior to the hearing. If you do not want to be heard via a video connection, please let us know. In that case, the hearing will be moved to a time when it is again possible to hear the parties involved in person. Finally, you may also opt out of a hearing. The objections committee will then come to an opinion on the basis of the file.

Who can lodge an objection?

You can lodge an objection against a decision addressed to you. You may also lodge an objection against a decision that is not addressed to you personally, but in which you are directly involved. In that case, you are an interested third party. You can send your letter of objection by post to:

NWO executive board
PO Box 93138
2509 AC The Hague

Submit your objection digitally

You can also submit your letter of objection digitally: the only way to submit an objection digitally is through the e-mail address provided by NWO: bezwaar@nwo.nl. Make sure that you scan your signed letter of objection or add your scanned signature to the letter of objection. Moreover, your digital letter of objection has to fulfil the same requirements as a written letter of objection.

What must your letter of objection state?

Your letter of objection should contain at least the following:

  • your name, address and signature
  • the date on which you sent the letter of objection
  • the reasons why you disagree with the decision
  • a copy of the decision that you object to

When can you lodge an objection?

Your letter of objection must be submitted within six weeks of the date on which the decision was issued. If NWO receives your letter of objection after this period, then NWO cannot consider your objection. Your letter of objection will then be declared inadmissible.

Withdrawing an objection

If you change your mind and want to withdraw your objection, then you can do so either in writing or verbally. If you would like to withdraw an objection in writing, then please do so by post or via the following e-mail address: bezwaar@nwo.nl. You can always withdraw your objection verbally during the hearing.

You have submitted your letter of objection. What happens next?

Confirmation of receipt and informal conversation

Within one week of receiving your letter of objection, NWO will send you a confirmation of receipt. This states the date on which the hearing of your objection has been provisionally planned.

If possible, the employee from the department that issued the decision will contact you for an informal talk. During this talk, the NWO employee will explain in further detail how the objections committee reached its decision. You can also discuss what you wish to achieve with your letter of objection and whether there are any other issues pending. If this informal consideration of your objection does not lead to the desired outcome for you and NWO, then your letter of objection will be dealt with during a formal hearing of the Objections Committee NWO/ZonMw.

Objections Committee

NWO has appointed a committee to assess the letters of objection. This is the Objections Committee NWO/ZonMw. The members of this committee are independent and not employed by NWO. The current members of the Objections Committee are:

  • Ms. M. van Duuren (chair)
  • Dr. A.B. Blomberg (deputy chair)
  • Dr. J.M.J. van Rijn van Alkemade (deputy chair)
  • Prof. Dr C.J. Wolswinkel (deputy chair)
  • Prof. J.W. McAllister
  • Prof. J.E. van den Brink
  • Dr. K.A.W.M. de Jong
  • Prof. J. Kleinnijenhuis
  • Prof. H.D.C. Roscam Abbing
  • Prof. E.W. Roscam Abbing
  • Prof. L.M. Bouter
  • Prof. I.D. de Beaufort
  • Dr. F.P. Keuning
  • Prof. Dr. A.A.M. Holtslag
  • Prof. Dr. P.C. van der Kruit

This committee issues an advice to the executive board and the executive board takes a decision (Decision on Objection) based on this advice.

Invitation to the hearing and sending of the defence and objection file

About one month before the hearing, you will receive an official invitation from NWO to attend the hearing.

Shortly after that, you will also receive the defence from NWO. In the defence, the representative of NWO will respond to your objections and further explain the position of NWO.

You may submit further documents to support your objection until ten days prior to the hearing. The file, which contains all documents relevant to your objection, will be sent to you at least one week before the hearing.


Your letter of objection will be assessed by a (deputy) chair and two members of the Objections Committee. As the Objections Committee wants to obtain a good understanding of the viewpoints of both parties, a hearing will be planned to which both you and the representative of NWO will be invited. This hearing will take place at the NWO office in The Hague. If urgent circumstances prevent you from attending, you can request to postpone the date of the hearing.

During the hearing, you will receive the opportunity to further clarify your letter of objection. You will also be requested to respond to the defence of NWO. Then the representative of NWO will be given the opportunity to explain the decision taken. Subsequently, the committee members can pose questions to both parties if they so wish.

The hearing will take no more than 45 minutes. A digital sound recording of the hearing will be made. After the executive board has taken a decision about the objection, you can request this sound recording to be sent to you by email.

Can I bring someone with me?

You have the right to bring other people who were involved in the application/ project with you. A colleague or a co-applicant, for example. In certain cases, you will also be able to involve an expert/witness in the objection procedure. In addition, you have the right to assistance. Dutch administrative law does not require you to use professional legal aid. You can bring your neighbour or even a friend to the hearing. However, you must notify the objections committee of this in writing in advance. If you do not want or are unable to attend the hearing, then the person providing you with assistance must bring authorisation with him/her. You and the other person/people must register at the reception with a valid form of identification. Let us know who you will be bringing along no more than ten days before the hearing at this e-mail address: bezwaar@nwo.nl. Visitors who have not registered will be denied entry. Mention the names of those you wish to have present in your e-mail and how they were involved in your application.

Hearing language

The hearing will be conducted in Dutch.

The advice and the decision about the objection

Based on the documents received and the hearing, the Objections Committee will issue an advice about the letter of objection to the NWO executive board. The executive board can choose to deviate from this advice when taking its decision. After the executive board has taken a decision about your letter of objection, this decision will be sent to you by post together with a copy of the advice issued by the Objections Committee.

If you do not agree with the decision about the objection, you can submit an appeal to a Dutch court within six weeks after the date on which the decision was taken.

Further questions

Please address any further questions you may have about how your letter of objection is dealt with to the secretary of the Objections Committee NWO/ZonMw (part of the Legal Affairs department of NWO) via e-mail: bezwaar@nwo.nl.