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?

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

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.

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.

The employee from the department that issued the decision will contact you shortly after you receive the confirmation to examine with you whether an informal solution can be found. The advantage of this option is that a lengthy legal procedure is avoided. During this contact, you can state your concerns, what you wish to achieve with your letter of objection and whether other problems play a role as well. 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. J.M. Mastop
  • Prof. J.W. McAllister
  • Prof. J.E. van den Brink
  • Dr K.A.W.M. de Jong
  • Prof. J. Kleinnijenhuis
  • Dr C.J. Wolswinkel
  • Prof. H.D.C. Roscam Abbing
  • Prof. E.W. Roscam Abbing
  • Prof. L.M. Bouter
  • Prof. I.D. de Beaufort

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 circumstances prevent you from attending, you can request to postpone the date of the hearing. You can also choose to be represented, for example by a colleague or lawyer. In that case, your representative should submit a proof of authorisation before 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.

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: secretariaatbezwaarschriftencommissie@nwo.nl.