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Discretion in Legal Decision Making

Beleid is a Dutch concept, difficult to translate, that is an integral part of Dutch culture and society. The English equivalent, policy, covers only half of its meaning. The definition of beleid, according to an authoritative dictionary of the Dutch language, refers to a set of contradictory connotations: on one hand, beleid means to manage and administer (besturen) based on principles and policies. This would allude to top-down planning if a second meaning were not implied simultaneously, that is, considerate treatment (bedachtzaamheid), preferably by hearing all those concerned and giving them a say. Strictly speaking, these connotations contain opposites: either one can take decisions against the wishes of at least some of those concerned or one can come to an agreement with mutual consent, which ...

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