On 24 April, Prof. Herman Bröring was appointed Knight of the Order of Orange-Nassau.
Bröring (Stadskanaal, 1959), Professor of Administrative Law, has worked in the Faculty of Law at the UG since 1982. He is seen as an exceptionally versatile and authoritative academic, a pioneer in the field of Administrative Law, a sharp, analytical lawyer and a passionate, committed teacher. Bröring also stands out for his social involvement, particularly during the recent problems surrounding gas extraction. He campaigned tirelessly and without personal interest for the rights and position of the aggrieved parties living near the Groningen gas fields.
Right from the start of his academic career, Bröring played a significant role in the development of law. In his thesis, he developed an entirely new, ground-breaking vision of the legal meaning of the non-statutory rules that have come to determine legal practice. This achievement earned him the Stibbe Prize. As a researcher and professor, he then went on to make important, relevant contributions to countless legal fields concerned with so-called soft law, varying from guidelines and policy rules to compensation law and making decisions on imposing fines. His work put Administrative Law in Groningen well and truly on the map. He is widely published and his publications are frequently cited.
Bröring began crossing the disciplines of private law, criminal law and administrative law early on in his academic career, promoting interaction between empirical research and legal studies. This accounts for his status as a pioneer in the field of soft law. He was, for example, a co-author and one of the editors of the Schurende Rechtsordes report, which examined the legal status of the island territories of the Dutch Antilles and Aruba, and the book that followed it. He also headed a contract research project that resulted in a fundamental discussion of the content and scope of the way in which policy rules are regulated in the General Administrative Law Act. Together with his colleagues in the Department of Criminal Law, he compiled the Referentiekader van Geldboetes report, which became an authoritative document on the way in which fines are calculated in administrative and criminal law. At the same time, he put an end to the confusion of rules relating to this subject. Bröring also carried out pioneering work relating to the enforcement of legal rules in administrative and criminal law. At the moment, he is conducting research commissioned by the Ministry of Justice and Security’s national Research and Documentation Centre (WODC) into the suspension of administrative fines during appeal or objection procedures.
The social value of Bröring's dedication is most apparent in the relentless, unselfish part he plays in the decision-making surrounding wind parks, Lelystad airport and the gas extraction problems in Groningen. As an adviser, he was closely involved in the realization of the Decision on Mining Damage in Groningen, and he is an advisor to both the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate and the Province of Groningen regarding matters including the gas issue and the damage protocol. He has taken the problems of the aggrieved residents living near the gas fields to heart ever since the earthquake in Huizinge in 2012. Thanks to his balanced, friendly approach to the problems, they see him as an source of information and a model of tranquillity. His dedication shows in the fact that he gives talks to citizens in his spare time. Special interests groups are always keen to ask him for basic legal advice relating to the problems of gas extraction, wind energy and other environmental projects. The advice he gives can always be put to good use as his aim is ‘empowerment’ to enable people to fight their own corner. In addition, as someone who was born and bred in Groningen, he spends much of his spare time promoting the Groningen language and culture, occupying positions on several committees aimed at boosting the cultural identity of Groningen.
Bröring is a highly valued administrator, both inside and outside the Faculty. As the first director of the Centre for the Study of Law, Administration and Society (CRBS), he organized countless conferences and compilations and he was one of the instigators of the international Legal Research Network. In this respect, he organized annual conferences that later developed to form a broad-based, international network. He was a keen advocate of the summer schools for PhD students that preceded these conferences, and also made an important contribution to structuring academic research. In his own calm, amicable way, he has been able to bring about substantial changes, earning him enormous respect from his staff. His colleagues consider him to be extremely loyal and many of them take him into their confidence. Bröring is chair of the Academic Integrity Committee and a member of the Disputes Committee at the UG, positions in which he does not shy away from difficult or delicate tasks. He always studies the documents meticulously, works with commitment and accuracy and is able to write understandable, legally accurate texts. He shows respect to other parties and always tries to find a good, less legal solution to problems and conflicts.
Students praise the way in which Bröring infects them with his enthusiasm for administrative law and teaches them to think about legal questions and the role of government and citizens. He manages to inspire his students during the Bachelor’s phase, using real-life examples and making the connection between academic and societal interests. In addition, he built up and headed the Groningen Graduate School of Law and was closely involved in supervising outstanding students who followed the Honours Programme. He was a champion of the University of Aruba, both in terms of teaching and research, playing a crucial role as the supervisor of the first student to be awarded a PhD by this university. Bröring still performs an important task there as a guest professor and is seen as an expert in the public law of Caribbean territories of the Kingdom of the Netherlands by academics and administrators alike.
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