UvA lecturer Laurens Buijs and the UvA are engaged in a protracted court battle. They want to go their separate ways, but Buijs seems to be using all legal means to get his way. Thursday afternoon, after about two and a half hours of litigation, he challenged the university in a court in Amsterdam.
A new chapter can be added to the long-running Laurens Buijs affair. After the hearing in late May, the (former) UvA lecturer and his (old) employer crossed swords again on Thursday afternoon in the Amsterdam District Court. It is now clear that the two no longer want to continue with each other; the contract will be terminated permanently. But the question is: how?
Because both parties accuse each other of “serious culpable actions,” though difficult to prove, there may be financial consequences, both parties know. Nevertheless, they are trying because, according to both Buijs and the UvA, the mutual accusations are serious.
According to UvA lawyer Pauline Sick of Boontje Advocaten, Buijs is accused of attacks, threats, and intimidation toward UvA employees and board members with such allegations and insults as “corruption, narcissism, toxic masculinity, total incompetence, and scum.” Even after the earlier lawsuit appealing his suspension that dealt with the same facts, he has not changed his behavior.
On the contrary, Sick argues. “He has intensified it.”
But according to Buijs, the statements cited were made in response to accusations via X (formerly Twitter) by UvA employees against him. His lawyer lists a few: “Lying he can do, Buijs! Incapable of independent thinking. Just writes about other people's work. He does not realize that everyone thinks he is a loser. A social media junkie.”
“The UvA apparently does not find it necessary to hold those UvA researchers accountable for this behavior,” his lawyer continued. Instead, the proverbial “door was shut behind him and never reopened. Among other things, he was banned from campus and no longer allowed to teach or pursue his doctorate,” said attorney Elise Bink of the Maes law firm.
The judge is not buying this argument. He sees more insults on Buijs' part than the other way around, he indicates. “It's absurd to think that I'm the only one who has gone off the deep end,” Buijs responds angrily. “Very ugly things have been said back and forth, but a one-sided picture is now being created” by both the UvA and the judge, he believes.
A little later, after heated consultation with his lawyer, Buijs takes stock and comes to a decision. He challenges the subdistrict court judge. Buijs says: “We accuse each other of serious culpability and I have the feeling that I am being questioned very critically about that, but the UvA is not. I believe that shows bias.”
An appeals court will now have to look into the alleged bias of the subdistrict court judge before the substance of the case can be discussed further. Shortly before that, the trial seemed to come to an early end. Behind closed doors, the parties once again negotiated with each other to see if they could reach a settlement - this time with the subdistrict court judge in the role of mediator. It turned out to be wishful thinking. “The UvA showed angelic patience with Buijs,” says UvA attorney Sick. “But every time a conflict was momentarily appeased, he once again sought confrontation.”
“We organized four discussions and he walked out on the last one,” Social Sciences-dean Agneta Fisher later adds.
“I hoped for a long time that another conversation could be held. But he wanted me to suspend his supervisor, whereas we wanted to wait for the investigation by the Stolker committee and for him to remain calm.”
It looks as if Buijs and the UvA are engaged in a protracted legal battle. The former seems to want to use all possible legal means to get his way. This month the appeal to the Amsterdam Court of Appeal on his suspension will take place and then, following a decision on the challenge, the case will also be continued. And finally, Buijs still intends to have his whistleblower report investigated by the House of Whistleblowers in The Hague, he announced on his website (in Dutch)