DVZ must provide lawyers with the direct contact details of its officials, the court has ruled.
In a recent ruling, the Brussels Court of First Instance ordered that the Immigration Department (DVZ) must provide lawyers with the direct contact details of its officials. The court thereby acceded to our demand and Mr Kati Verstrepen, lawyer in immigration law.
We sued the Belgian state in June 2022 because the Immigration Department has failed to provide lawyers with a detailed list of contact details of services and officials for more than four years.
Currently, lawyers only get too general contact details of various services at DVZ.
The judge ruled that, in addition to the general information the service already discloses, DVZ must again provide the Bar Association with a detailed list of all names, positions, direct telephone numbers and e-mail addresses of officials.
Why is this so important?
Direct contact with a DVZ official is essential for lawyers. It allows them to quickly inform the official of important evidence that needs to be added to the file at the last minute.
In immigration law proceedings, lawyers sometimes need to provide evidence justifying, for example, a visa application at very short notice. Accurate and up-to-date information leads to more correct and better decisions, which is in the interest of all concerned.
The Belgian state has been given until 15 November to transmit that detailed list of contact details. In case of delay, a penalty of 500 euros per day can be imposed. The judge finds this necessary because DVZ has repeatedly ignored court rulings. The judge literally articulated that he is nostalgic for the time when a public administration complied with court rulings without error.
This is the second time a judge has forced the Belgian state to provide lawyers with a full organisational chart of the Immigration Department. The first time was in a ruling of 22 August 2011.
It went on for almost eight years. The Bar requested and received that list on a regular basis. The last time was on March 25, 2019. Since then, the Bar Association has only received a list of general contact details of the various departments.
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