Ivory towers
Ivory towers

Ivory Towers

Subdistrict court judge mr. Ines Kukel handled a case three years ago in which I acted for Thijs Verhoeven, real estate entrepreneur. My client leased a store in the Randstad area to a department store chain, which had gone bankrupt. The trustee in that bankruptcy refused to have the retail space cleared, so I had commenced summary proceedings. With her brown-grey hair and round glasses, subdistrict court judge mr. Kukel looked like a sweet granny, but during that session the reality proved otherwise. From the first minute of the session, she launched an attack on Thijs Verhoeven with insinuating questions. She portrayed him as the ‘bad guy’, an embarrassing display. Her judgment dismissing the application did not surprise us. However later, when the decision of the court hearing the case on the merits made mincemeat of the judgment of mr. Kukel, our victory tasted sweet.

Detached from reality

In the years that followed, I regularly heard stories from colleagues about mr. Kukel. Detached from reality, she increasingly acted as the all-knowing main protagonist in her own performances during sessions.

Recently I ran into mr. Kukel again in a rent matter. Restaurant De Sampan had been forced to close its doors during the corona pandemic and had accumulated a rent debt of a ton with my client Michelle Parlevliet. In the courtroom, the issue was raised of what had happened to the government assistance De Sampan had received. After all, the lessee should have used this assistance to pay the rent, among other things. “Firstly, tell me something about your own financial position”, mr. Kukel said to Michelle Parlevliet.

When I cautiously remarked that it was not my client’s financial position but that of De Sampan that was relevant, I was rebuffed. Because De Sampan’s rent debt was so high and government assistance had apparently disappeared into the owners’ own pockets, mr. Kukel had little choice but to grant my client’s application for eviction. However, she did not do so until six months later. Time after time, the judgment was deferred without giving any reason.

Ivory towers

Therefore, at the time of the eviction, De Sampan’s rent debt had risen to two ton. Furthermore, the judge had overlooked a few claims in her judgment. But no one will give two hoots about that anymore. High in her ivory tower, subdistrict court judge mr. Kukel serves the rule of law until her retirement.

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This column was written for Den Haag Centraal. Raymond de Mooij writes a monthly column about what he experiences in his practice.