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Last update: 23-03-2005
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Legal aid - Netherlands

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

1. What are the costs of a trial and who should normally pay them? 1.
2. What is legal aid? 2.
3. Who can benefit from legal aid? 3.
4. Can legal aid be obtained for all disputes? 4.
5. How will I be informed of whether or not I am eligible for legal aid? 5.
6. If I qualify for legal aid, who will choose my lawyer? 6.
7. Where can I obtain an application form for legal aid? If I qualify for legal aid, what should I do? 7.
8. Which documents should I attach to my request for legal aid? Where should I register my request for legal aid? 8.
9. If I qualify for legal aid, will this cover all the costs of my trial? 9.
10. If I qualify for partial legal aid, how will the other costs be paid? 10.
11. If I qualify for legal aid, will it cover any review I might make following the trial? 11.
12. If I qualify for legal aid, can it be withdrawn before the end of the trial? 12.
13. If I do not qualify for legal aid, can I appeal against this decision? 13.

 

1. What are the costs of a trial and who should normally pay them?

Trial costs vary with the size and type of case. No exact amount can be forecast. The largest portion of the costs are counsel's fees. There is no fixed hourly rate for the counsel's fee; it can vary from about €100 to as much as €250 or even more. When a trial is started, court fees also have to be paid. Court fees vary according to the claim before the court.

2. What is legal aid?

Legal aid is a grant of state-funded assistance needed by people who are financially unable meet the costs of a court case themselves.

3. Who can benefit from legal aid?

Legal aid is granted in cases where a legal interest in the Netherlands is to be defended by people or bodies corporate whose ability to pay does not exceed the fixed maximum disposable income. For 2002 the maximum disposable income after tax is set at €1 344 for single persons and €1 920 for married or cohabiting couples. Legal aid is not available to those with assets in excess of €9 100. Recipients of legal aid must pay an income-related fee. The lowest fee in 2002 is €61, and the highest is €532. In criminal cases fees are generally not payable.

4. Can legal aid be obtained for all disputes?

No. Legal aid will not be given in cases worth less than €180.

Subsidised legal aid is also excluded where:

  • the application is manifestly unfounded;
  • the costs of legal aid are out of proportion to the value of the case;
  • the application concerns a criminal case in which only a low penalty is likely to be incurred;
  • the application is made by a corporate body which is formed for the purposes of bringing the court action;
  • the case concerns the practice of an occupation or business, unless the continued ability to practise depends on the outcome of the case;
  • the case is to be brought in an international court that has its own legal aid scheme; or
  • the case concerns an interest which the applicant can defend alone without legal representation.

5. How will I be informed of whether or not I am eligible for legal aid?

You can obtain information about the Dutch legal aid system from a lawyer, a legal aid bureau (bureau Rechtshulp) or the legal aid board (Raad voor Rechtsbijstand). They can all give information about the legal aid system and eligibility for it.

6. If I qualify for legal aid, who will choose my lawyer?

You are free to choose your own lawyer, whether or not you qualify for legal aid. If you need help in finding a lawyer, contact the Raad voor Rechtsbijstand or the Bar Association.

If you do not live in the Netherlands, the best contact is the Raad voor Rechtsbijstand in The Hague, (address: PO Box 450, 2501 CL The Hague). If you live in the Netherlands, contact the legal aid board for the district where you live.

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7. Where can I obtain an application form for legal aid? If I qualify for legal aid, what should I do?

Normally your own lawyer fills in an application form. He will handle all the paperwork. The legal aid fee will have to be paid to the lawyer.

8. Which documents should I attach to my request for legal aid? Where should I register my request for legal aid?

If you apply for legal aid, you will have to supply documentary evidence of your income and assets and documentation about the case (see question 4). Your lawyer will know what documentation will have to be attached to the application form. Otherwise, an application form can be requested from the Raad voor Rechtsbijstand. The Raad voor Rechtsbijstand registers all applications.

9. If I qualify for legal aid, will this cover all the costs of my trial?

No, legal aid covers only counsel's fees. Court and other fees are not included. If you are eligible for legal aid, you can apply for a reduction of court fees. If this is available, your lawyer will make the necessary applications. Trial costs can be claimed against the other side.

10. If I qualify for partial legal aid, how will the other costs be paid?

Partial legal aid does not exist in the Netherlands.

11. If I qualify for legal aid, will it cover any review I might make following the trial?

For the review of a case or a trial by a higher court, a fresh legal aid application must be made. The recipient must also pay a fresh legal aid fee.

12. If I qualify for legal aid, can it be withdrawn before the end of the trial?

Yes, legal aid can be withdrawn if the decision is made on false information, if the recipient does not pay the legal aid fee or if the recipient's ability to pay has substantially improved.

13. If I do not qualify for legal aid, can I appeal against this decision?

Yes. Initially you can file objections to the decision with the legal aid board itself. If your objections are not (fully) dealt with, you can appeal to the administrative court. The appeal possibilities will be described in the decision itself or in a covering letter.

Further information

Further information can also be obtained from www.postbus51.nl. Here you can obtain general information about the Dutch legal system. Postbus 51 can send a wide variety of brochures concerning Dutch law. Most of them are available in English and other European languages.

« Legal aid - General information | Netherlands - General information »

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Last update: 23-03-2005

 
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