Janneke H. Gerards

Winner Dissertation Prize 2003

Rechterlijke toetsing aan het gelijkheidsbeginsel

Supervisor: Prof. mr A.W. Heringa
Nomination: Maastricht University, Faculty of Law

Report by the selection committee

Equality is a special value in our society. Almost immediately, however, the question arises: ” in which regard are persons to be considered as equals?”. In law the equality principle has acquired a more precise meaning than the prohibition of discrimination. But here difficult questions arise on the content, intensity and extent of equality. The special merit of this dissertation is that these often awkward questions are not evaded, but confronted with ambition and dissected with great acuteness. More than once a strong appeal is made on the Judge to consider or rectify a case of unequal treatment, be it a case of allocation of a house, tax assessment, recompensation or employment contract, or of discrimination on various grounds. The author has developed a theoretical model for judicial review of the equality principle. This model is based on a thorough theoretical analysis of the concepts of equality, comparability, distinction, differentiation, classification and discrimination. Besides she has given a clear description and analysis of the practice of judicial review of the equality principle in four legal systems: the European Convention of Human Rights, European law, the Netherlands and the United States of America, particularly the jurisprudence of the Supreme Court. On the basis of these analyses the theoretical model originally developed is adapted to the developing practice in national and international jurisdiction.