Nature of cassation proceedings

There is an essential difference between cassation and ordinary appeals. Ordinarily, when a case is appealed every aspect of it is reconsidered and a new examination of the facts may take place if necessary. However, a court of cassation has limited freedom, especially where the facts are concerned. The Supreme Court is required by law to base its deliberations on the facts as established by the lower court.

Cassation means quashing a judicial decision on a point of law, including procedural law. The Supreme Court also monitors whether the lower court satisfied the requirements of due process.

After cassation the Supreme Court usually refers the case to a court of appeal in order to deal with the case further, since the Supreme Court itself is prohibited from considering questions of fact. The Supreme Court only passes final judgment if no significant questions of fact remain to be decided.

In general, proceedings before the Supreme Court take place almost entirely in writing. Appeal in cassation, like other legal remedies available at other courts, is subject to statutory time limits and formal provisions. Because different regulations set different time limits, no time limits for appeals in cassation in general can be given. Formal provisions include the principle of mandatory legal representation.

How the Surpreme Court works

In principle a combination of five judges of the Supreme Court rules. Some cases, depending on their nature, may be ruled by a combination of three judges. The system of consultations in chambers adopted by the Court means that in many cases judges who are not sitting on a particular panel in a particular case, can give their views on the matter at issue in chambers. These consultations in chambers take place on a weekly basis.