COMPENSATION FUNDS IN GENERAL
WHY ARE COMPENSATION FUNDS NEEDED?
In recent decades the Netherlands have been confronted with various types of catastrophes. In some cases, this concerned natural disasters, particularly an earthquake in Southern Limburg, flooding in south-east Netherlands and heavy rains. There were also man-made disasters that led to a lot of attention in the media. In particular, the explosion of a fireworks factory in Enschede, the large fi re in a cafe in Volendam, a Legionella epidemic in Bovenkarspel, Q fever in the south of the Netherlands, the shooting in Alphen aan de Rijn and the crash of the MH17 on 17 July 2014 in the Ukraine killing all 283 passengers and 15 crew on board, 6 were incidents that hit many victims. In all of these cases the question arose as to what legal instruments could be used to provide compensation.
Dutch legal writers have oft en pointed to the difficulties that victims will encounter in their attempts to obtain compensation for the financial consequences of catastrophes through normal methods. For instance, the possibility to apply tort law in cases of natural disasters (such as flooding or earthquake) will oft en be difficult for the simple fact that a liable injurer may oft en be lacking.
This issue has thus given rise to various occasions when the Dutch government has indeed intervened with a public budget to provide ad hoc compensation to the victims, albeit that the legal arrangements in that respect are not unified and that the arrangements have been the subject of criticism. As will be highlighted below, a specific Act ( Wet Tegemoetkoming Schade bij Rampen, ‘WTS’) was created with the aim of providing a – more or less – general tool for compensation to the victims of catastrophes.
Another main argument can be found in the shortcomings of tort law in specific situations. Sometimes it is felt that it is not fair or too harsh for the victim to prove wrongful behaviour of the tortfeasor. For example, in cases of an unmotorised victim in a traffic accident with a car. In most legal jurisdictions tort law has been modified in order to give the unmotorised victim a more favourable position.