Legal aid

Netherlands
Content provided by:
European Judicial Network
European Judicial Network (in civil and commercial matters)

1 What costs are involved in legal proceedings and who normally has to bear them?

To bring the case to court, the claimant must pay court fees and any fees for a lawyer’s assistance (in cases involving amounts over EUR 25 000, the defendant also pays court fees). If the court finds in the claimant’s favour, it usually orders the losing party to pay the claimant’s legal costs. In this case, the losing party bears the costs that the claimant incurred to bring the case to court.

2 What exactly is legal aid?

(Subsidised) legal aid is legal assistance provided to a litigant in respect of a legal interest that directly affects the litigant personally, as long as the law or the associated provisions provide for such legal aid.

3 Do I have a right to legal aid?

That depends on your income and the type of interest being defended. You can find more information on the website of the Legal Aid Board (Raad voor Rechtsbijstand). https://www.rvr.org/

4 Is legal aid granted for all types of proceedings?

Yes. In the Netherlands, (subsidised) legal aid is granted at the advisory stage, and for all types of proceedings. However, see also the answer to the previous question. Subsidised mediation also exists in the Netherlands.

5 Are there special procedures in cases of need?

In civil law, it is possible to bring interim proceedings. In administrative law, it is possible to request a provisional measure at any stage of the proceedings, be it the initial complaint or the appeal in first or second instance.

6 Where can I obtain a legal aid application form?

In the Netherlands, the application for subsidised legal aid is, in principle, submitted by a lawyer. The lawyer must be registered with the Legal Aid Board. If you are from another EU Member State, you can submit an application through the transmitting authority in your Member State (usually the Ministry of Justice, a court or another specially designated organisation). The application will be passed on to the receiving authority in the Netherlands, the Legal Aid Board.

7 Which documents need to be submitted with the legal aid application form?

There is a financial test and a test of interest. For the financial test, the Legal Aid Board must be given information showing what your annual income was two years previously. If you can demonstrate that you qualify for subsidised legal aid in your Member State, this will be enough for the Legal Aid Board.

For the test of interest, you must submit supporting documents showing the interest in the case, such as how much money is at stake, whether the case is to do with your company’s interests, or which steps you have taken to resolve the dispute.

8 Where do I submit my application for legal aid?

Raad voor Rechtsbijstand

Postbus 70503

5201 CD Den Bosch

Netherlands

9 How do I find out whether I am entitled to legal aid?

You and, if applicable, your lawyer will receive a written decision on your application. This will show whether your application was successful. If the decision is not in your favour, you can appeal.

10 What should I do, if I am entitled to legal aid?

You must pay the lawyer a contribution towards their fees, the amount of which is determined by the Legal Aid Board.

11 Who chooses my lawyer, if I am entitled to legal aid?

In the Netherlands, you can choose your own lawyer. However, the lawyer must be registered with the Legal Aid Board. For more information, see Find a Lawyer (Zoek een advocaat) – Netherlands Bar (Nederlandse Orde van Advocaten – advocatenorde.nl).

If this is not possible for you, the Legal Aid Board, as the receiving authority, can ask the president of the local branch of the Netherlands Bar to appoint a lawyer.

12 Does legal aid cover all the costs of the proceedings?

No. You will pay a contribution towards your lawyer’s fees. You will also have to pay court fees if you go to court. Fees may also be payable if you need to use the services of external experts or a bailiff. Finally, if the court finds against you, you may be ordered to pay the costs of the proceedings (including the other party’s costs).

13 Who bears the other costs, if I am entitled only to limited legal aid?

You do. You may be able to claim a contribution in your Member State.

14 Does legal aid also cover appeals?

Yes.

15 Can legal aid be withdrawn before the proceedings are concluded (or even revoked after the proceedings have terminated)?

If, as a result of the case, you receive (a claim on) an amount greater than half of the tax-exempt capital allowance applying at the time, the Legal Aid Board may decide to withdraw your right to subsidised legal aid. In this case, you will be deemed capable of paying for legal assistance yourself.

16 Can I contest a refusal to give legal aid?

You can appeal to the Legal Aid Board against a Legal Aid Board decision regarding your eligibility for legal aid. You can contest a decision on such an appeal at the district court (rechtbank), and can appeal in second instance to the Administrative Law Division (Afdeling bestuursrechtspraak) of the Council of State (Raad van State).

Last update: 14/03/2022

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