What to do in case of a legal issue?
If you are involved in a legal case or need to take legal action in the Netherlands, you may need to use the services of a lawyer or of another legal professional. This will depend partly on the nature of the case.
In civil law cases which are held in the sub-district sector of the District Court (including many small claims, rent law and labour law cases), it is not mandatory to have legal representation. For cases held before the District Court, the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court of the Netherlands, professional legal representation is required.
For criminal law cases, it is not officially necessary to have legal representation, but a lawyer is always assigned to anyone taken into police custody.
If you are looking for legal assistance, there are several options to turn to depending on your case and financial status.
Free legal assistance
The Municipality of The Hague offers free legal assistance to every resident of The Hague through consultation with the municipality’s legal advisors. The legal advisors may:
- help you with legislation and regulations
- help you write letters and objections
- give you information or advice on social-legal subjects related to housing, work, education and income
- mediate with problems with official (government) entities
- recommend organisations which are better able to solve your issue.
You can make an appointment with the legal advisors here.
For consumer affairs you can contact the Juridisch Loket. The Juridisch Loket (the legal counter of the government of the Netherlands) can provide you with legal information and advice for free. They can recommend a lawyer or mediator and inform you of whether you qualify for subsidized legal aid.
Subsidized legal aid
People with income below a specified level are eligible for government-subsidized assistance from legal aid agencies (rechtsbijstand). Raad voor Rechtsbijstand (the Legal Aid Board) has more information on organizations providing subsidized legal aid. If you do not qualify for legal aid, it is possible to take out legal aid insurance.
If you do not qualify for subsidized legal aid, you might need to find a lawyer for advice or legal representation. Finding a lawyer is especially important if the other party involved is employing one.
Lawyers charge for their services but may provide initial consultations free of charge. They usually specialize in particular areas of the law. If you need help finding a lawyer, you can approach the Netherlands Bar Association (an organization to which all lawyers in the Netherlands belong) or the Juridisch Loket for a recommendation.
Mediators are increasingly used in the Netherlands in divorces and other legal cases, and may help to resolve a case without going to court. There is a charge for mediation services, payable in equal shares by both parties involved in the mediation unless another payment arrangement is agreed on. The costs of mediation are usually significantly less than the cost of taking a case to court.