A student from Amsterdam will face the municipality in court on January 31. Supported by the legal advisory firm Legal Advice Wanted, he aims to compel the municipality to grant him an energy allowance.
January 23, 2023 – Het Parool
He describes the fact that many Amsterdam students are now pinning their hopes on Van der Geest as ‘a combination of circumstances.’ “I would have preferred to resolve it with the municipality, but that’s not possible,” he says. “I submitted an application in August and then filed an objection, but both were rejected. That was solely because I am a student. So, I feel compelled to go to court.”
Students in Amsterdam are excluded from the one-time energy allowance of 1000 or 1800 euros, depending on income. An application is still not possible via the municipality’s website when someone indicates they are a student. This is because Minister Carola Schouten (Poverty Reduction) advised earlier to assist students through individual exceptional assistance.
In early August, a student from Nijmegen already went to court for a test case on the non-approval of the energy allowance for students and won. The court deemed Schouten’s argument invalid and found that the municipality of Nijmegen made an ‘unjustifiable distinction.’ As a result, the student was entitled to the energy allowance, creating a precedent, granting other students in Nijmegen the right to the energy allowance.
Initiating a case in Amsterdam took a longer preparation, which is why it is now being brought forward. Van der Geest, who rents a private house with a housemate, hopes to ensure that Amsterdam students will receive the one-time energy allowance.
Legal Advice Wanted
Van der Geest, who studies Greek and Latin language and culture and law, is conducting the lawsuit in collaboration with the legal advisory firm Legal Advice Wanted. He provides free legal advice in a legal aid clinic himself. “My approach there is that you prefer not to let it come to a lawsuit,” he explains. “But now I feel compelled because I am not getting a clear answer from the municipality.”
“Rejecting me for the energy allowance goes against the principle of equality in my opinion. Because the municipality does not explain why this distinction would be justified, they violate this.”
The student is confident in the lawsuit but realizes that the Amsterdam judge may make a different decision than the one in Nijmegen. “And if the municipality loses, I expect them to appeal.” When asked if he thinks other students will see him as a hero, he says, “It’s really just a personal matter. But I’m happy to do it, although someone else could have done it too.”