Four British citizens residing in the Netherlands have brought interim proceedings against the Dutch state on the ground that the Netherlands should guarantee their European Union (EU) citizenship rights after the United Kingdom has left the EU. They also argued that the Dutch Immigration and Naturalisation Service (INS) has committed a wrongful act by publishing incorrect information regarding Brexit on its website. On both of these points, the four British citizens requested the Amsterdam District Court to ask several preliminary questions to the Court of Justice of the EU.
In line with the position defended by the Dutch state, the court held that the claims of the British citizens were inadmissible, because they chose the wrong forum to bring their claims. The Courts ruled that they should have brought their claims regarding their future residence status directly to the immigration courts. In this context, the court makes reference to a letter sent by the INS, which states – in brief – that all British citizens residing in the Netherlands will lose their EU citizenship after the 29th of March 2019. The letter also states that British citizens will keep their existing rights during the transition phase (until the 1st of July 2020). Afterwards they are eligible for a national residence permit. If the British citizens do not agree with the content of the letter, they may raise an objection and, if relevant, subsequently lodge an appeal before the designated administrative courts.
The Court also ruled that the claims regarding the information on the website of the INS were inadmissible on the ground that the British citizens do not incur any damage as a consequence of the incorrect information. The Court considered that these claims did not really concern the correctness of the information on the website of the INS, but rather the future legal status of the British citizens in the Netherlands. Therefore also these claims should be brought before the relevant immigration court.
As all of the claims were ruled inadmissible by the Amsterdam District Court, there is no ground for asking any preliminary questions to the Court of Justice of the EU.
This was not the first time British citizens residing in the Netherlands applied for interim measures in relation to their post-Brexit legal status. In an earlier case, several claims of British citizens against the Dutch State and the Municipality of Amsterdam were rejected by the Amsterdam Court of Appeal on the ground that these claims were too imprecise and open-ended.
In both cases relating to post-Brexit citizenship rights of British citizens the Dutch State was represented by Erik Pijnacker Hordijk, Georges Dictus and Mette van Asperen
Amsterdam District Court, 4 February 2019, ECLI:NL:RBAMS:2019:691