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Article

Access_open Chosen Blindness or a Revelation of the Truth?

A New Procedure for Revision in Belgium

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 4 2020
Keywords final criminal conviction, revision procedure, grounds for revision, Court of Cassation, Commission for revision in criminal matters
Authors Katrien Verhesschen and Cyrille Fijnaut
AbstractAuthor's information

    The Belgian Code of criminal procedure provides the possibility to revise final criminal convictions. This procedure had remained more or less untouched for 124 years, but was finally reformed by the Act of 2018, after criticism was voiced in legal doctrine concerning its narrow scope and possible appearances of partiality and prejudice. The Act of 2018 therefore broadened the third ground for revision, the so-called novum, and defined it as an element that was unknown to the judge during the initial proceedings and impossible for the convicted person to demonstrate at that time and that, alone or combined with evidence that was gathered earlier, seems incompatible with the conviction, thus creating a strong suspicion that, if it had been known, it would have led to a more favourable outcome. Thereby, this ground for revision is no longer limited to factual circumstances, but also includes changed appreciations by experts. To counter appearances of partiality and prejudice, the Act of 2018 created the Commission for revision in criminal matters, a multidisciplinary body that has to give non-binding advice to the Court of Cassation on the presence of a novum. However, the legislature also introduced new hurdles on the path to revision, such as the requirement for the applicant to add pieces that demonstrate the ground for revision in order for his or her request to be admissible. For that reason, the application in practice will have to demonstrate whether the Act of 2018 made the revision procedure more accessible in reality.


Katrien Verhesschen
Katrien Verhesschen is a PhD candidate and teaching assistant at the Institute of Criminal Law KU Leuven.

Cyrille Fijnaut
Cyrille Fijnaut is Emeritus Professor of Criminal Law & Criminology at Erasmus University Rotterdam, KU Leuven and Tilburg University.
Article

Access_open Exoneration in Sweden: Is It Not about Time to Reform the Swedish Model?

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 4 2020
Keywords wrongful convictions, extraordinary legal remedy, exoneration, exoneration in Sweden
Authors Dennis Martinsson
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article reviews exoneration in Sweden, with a focus on the procedure of applying for exoneration. First, it highlights some core features of Swedish criminal procedural law, necessary to understand exoneration in the Swedish context. Secondly, it outlines the possibilities in Swedish law to apply for exoneration, both in favour of a convicted person and to the disadvantage of a previously acquitted defendant. Thirdly, it identifies some challenges with the current Swedish model of administering applications for exoneration. Fourthly, it argues that the current system should be reformed by introducing into Swedish law a review committee that administers applications for exoneration.


Dennis Martinsson
Dennis Martinsson is Assistant Professor in the Department of Law of Stockholm University in Sweden.
Article

Access_open Between legal certainty and doubt The developments in the procedure to overturn wrongful convictions in the Netherlands

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 4 2020
Keywords revision law, post-conviction review, wrongful convictions, miscarriages of justice, criminal law, empirical research
Authors Nina Holvast, Joost Nan and Sjarai Lestrade
AbstractAuthor's information

    The Dutch legislature has recently (2012) altered the legislation for post-conviction revision of criminal cases. The legislature aimed to improve the balance between the competing interests of individual justice and the finality of verdicts, by making post-conviction revision more accessible. In this article we describe the current legal framework for revising cases. We also study how the revision procedure functions in practice, by looking at the types and numbers of (successful) requests for further investigations and applications for revision. We observe three challenges in finding the right balance in the revision process in the Netherlands. These challenges concern: 1) the scope of the novum criterion (which is strict), 2) the appropriate role of an advisory committee (the ACAS) in revision cases (functioning too much as a pre-filter for the Supreme Court) and, 3) the difficulties that arise due to requiring a defence council when requesting a revision (e.g., financial burdens).


Nina Holvast
Nina Holvast is Assistant Professor at the Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam.

Joost Nan
Joost Nan is Associate Professor at the Erasmus University Rotterdam.

Sjarai Lestrade
Sjarai Lestrade is Assistant Professor at the Radboud University Nijmegen.
Article

Access_open Correcting Wrongful Convictions in France: Has the Act of 2014 Opened the Door to Revision?

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 4 2020
Keywords Final criminal conviction, revision procedure, grounds for revision, preparatory investigative measures, Cour de révision et de réexamen
Authors Katrien Verhesschen and Cyrille Fijnaut
AbstractAuthor's information

    The French ‘Code de procédure pénale’ provides the possibility to revise final criminal convictions. The Act of 2014 reformed the procedure for revision and introduced some important novelties. The first is that it reduced the different possible grounds for revision to one ground, which it intended to broaden. The remaining ground for revision is the existence of a new fact or an element unknown to the court at the time of the initial proceedings, of such a nature as to establish the convicted person’s innocence or to give rise to doubt about his guilt. The legislature intended judges to no longer require ‘serious doubt’. However, experts question whether judges will comply with this intention of the legislature. The second is the introduction of the possibility for the applicant to ask the public prosecutor to carry out the investigative measures that seem necessary to bring to light a new fact or an unknown element before filing a request for revision. The third is that the Act of 2014 created the ‘Cour de révision et de réexamen’, which is composed of eighteen judges of the different chambers of the ‘Cour de cassation’. This ‘Cour de révision et de réexamen’ is divided into a ‘commission d’instruction’, which acts as a filter and examines the admissibility of the requests for revision, and a ‘formation de jugement’, which decides on the substance of the requests. Practice will have to show whether these novelties indeed improved the accessibility of the revision procedure.


Katrien Verhesschen
Katrien Verhesschen is PhD candidate and teaching assistant at the Institute of Criminal Law KU Leuven.

Cyrille Fijnaut
Cyrille Fijnaut is Emeritus Professor of Criminal Law & Criminology at Erasmus University Rotterdam, KU Leuven and Tilburg University.
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