In many cases, you are entitled to lodge an objection if you do not agree with NWO’s formal decision. Your case will then be reviewed. Here you can discover how to lodge an objection and how your letter of objection will be processed.
Considering lodging an objection?
If you are considering lodging an objection, in some cases it may be advisable and worthwhile to first contact a member of staff from the department that drafted the decision for an informal discussion. During this discussion, the NWO employee can explain in more detail how the evaluation committee arrived at its decision. You can also discuss what you want to achieve with your objection and whether there are any other problems. This kind of informal discussion may help to avoid lengthy legal proceedings. If the discussion does not produce the result that either you or NWO had hoped for, then you may still lodge an objection within six weeks of the date of the decision. Your objection will then be dealt with during a formal hearing of the NWO/ZonMw Objections Committee.
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.
Submit your objection by post or digitally
You can send your letter of objection by post to:
NWO executive board
PO Box 93138
2509 AC The Hague
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: email@example.com. 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: firstname.lastname@example.org. You can only 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.
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:
- Mr. M. van Duuren (chair)
- Dr. Mr. A.B. Blomberg (deputy chair)
- Mr. Dr. J.M.J. van Rijn van Alkemade (deputy chair)
- Mr. Dr. C.J. Wolswinkel (deputy chair)
- Prof. Dr. I.D. de Beaufort
- Prof. Dr. L.M. Bouter
- Mr. N. van den Brink
- Prof. Dr. H.F.L. Garretsen
- Prof. Dr. A.A.M. Holtslag
- Mr. Dr. K.A.W.M. de Jong
- Drs. Mr. F.P. Keuning
- Prof. Dr. J. Kleinnijenhuis
- Prof. Dr. P.C. van der Kruijt
- Prof. Drs. E.W. Roscam Abbing
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.
The hearing will be conducted in Dutch. You can bring somebody with you to translate.
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, 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.
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. If you do not want or are unable to attend the hearing, then the person providing you with assistance must bring along an authorisation signed by you.
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: email@example.com. Visitors who have not registered will be denied entry. Mention in your email the names of those you wish to have present, if applicable, their involvement in your application.
The objection procedure is a formal legal procedure under Dutch administrative law. As such, the hearing will be held in the Dutch language. All formal documents will be drawn up in Dutch as well.
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.
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 (assigned to the Legal Affairs department of NWO) via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.