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Auderghem pays €2,000 over parking fine in story worthy of capital of surrealism

16:08 24/05/2019

A €25 parking fine has turned into a €2,000 pay-out for Auderghem in a situation that can only be described as “Belgian”.

Three years ago, a French-speaking resident of Brussels received a parking ticket. But her partner, Jan De Groote, Dutch-speaking, had  been driving the car. He was forced, he told Bruzz, to leave the car along the side of the road when it got a flat.

De Groote’s partner told him to deal with the ticket, so he went to the Auderghem town hall to ask for it in Dutch. The town hall refused, since the car was owned by a registered French speaker.

De Groote refused to pay until he received documentation in Dutch. The municipality continued to write to him in French and eventually got a court order that would have allowed a bailiff to block his bank account.

Here’s the thing: De Groote is a lawyer. He filed a civil case against the municipality. “According to Auderghem, it was a municipal writ of execution, but for that you need the written approval of the city council,” explained De Groote. “They couldn’t seem to come up with a copy of that.”

A few months ago, a court ruled in De Groote’s favour and slapped Auderghem with a bill of €1,440 for his legal costs. “That turned into €2,000 because the municipality waited five months to pay it.”

Wait, there’s more. As the municipality did not pay, a bailiff was ordered to seize works of art from the town hall. De Groote says the works were in fact seized; Auderghem mayor Sophie De Vos says they were not.

“The paintings were not confiscated,” she told Bruzz. “The payment had to be approved by the council. That happened on 14 May. On 15 May, the bailiff arrived. A day later, the payment went through. It is ridiculous that a fine of €25 had to come this far.”

Photo: Benoit Doppagne/BELGA

Written by Lisa Bradshaw


Frank Lee

Does Auderghem have a town manager? Its citizens are the ones paying the fine, while civil servants and elected officials never get held responsible for their mistakes. A typical Belgian story indeed...

May 28, 2019 18:17