19 December 2022
This column ‘Food for thought’ was written for Den Haag Centraal. Raymond de Mooij writes a monthly column about what he experiences in his practice.
The Hague-based Delano Mullet owns a ‘window cleaning company’. He paid me a visit earlier this year. “You know that my family and I rent a house from the housing association,” he said. “Next door to us lives the Vink family. An older couple with a whole bunch of children and grandchildren. My sister Miranda was married to their son Ronnie. She ran off with an Eastern Bloc man last year. From that moment on, it’s been war.”
My client meant the latter almost literally. Daily neighbourly squabbles between the families culminated in vandalism and brawls. Delano Mullet: “Last week, one of those grandchildren put a few dents in my car. And our dog was suddenly dead on the porch.” I called a social administrator from Domus housing association. The woman said she was unable to solve the problem. “We don’t know what exactly is happening and who is to blame.” After a subsequent incident between neighbours in which the police were called, I decided to force a breakthrough by serving a summons on both the Vink family and Domus housing association. On behalf of my client, I demanded that the housing association find another house for one of the parties, and the Vink family be ordered to keep quiet until then.
Subdistrict Court Judge Ms mr. Hyacint had beautifully coiffed hair. She heard the parties’ arguments. The lawyer for the Vink family explained that it was Mullet who was aggressive and not his clients. He demanded that my client be banned from going near his clients.
Mr. Hyacinth surveyed the battlefield. “This is easy for me. I reject all the claims. This problem is not my responsibility, but that of parties themselves.”
In vain, I asked the court to force Domus to house one of the tenants elsewhere. “You have heard that Domus has no other houses available,” was her answer. My client rose to his feet: “What about all those Ukrainians who are able to get housing!” I pointed out to mr. Hyacinth that if an accident occurred, we would all have ourselves to blame. But this did not provide the magistrate with food for thought. “This is easy for me,” she repeated. “I reject all the claims.”
My hunch was soon confirmed. A week after the Subdistrict Court Judge’s ruling, Ronnie Vink was taken by ambulance to hospital with serious head injuries. I phoned Delano Mullet. “I’m doing well, thank you. But Ronnie needs to rest for a while in Westeinde hospital.”
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