A free lawyer – that would make life a lot easier. It is a recurring dilemma in the event of disputes. Should I get myself a lawyer (and do I want to pay for him or her) or not? Mr Sebastiaan Kieffer LLM explains the possibilities regarding free legal advice.
Step 1: Find an expert lawyer and make use of a free consultation
In the event of a dispute, you can obtain information from a specialised lawyer. He or she can give you an insight into your legal position. So during this exploratory meeting, a lawyer can often outline how the case is going to progress. Also the lawyer wil explain the expected costs of legal proceedings.
Amstel Advocaten offers such an exploratory meeting free of charge.
During the orientation phase consult your legal expenses insurance policy (rechtsbijstand verzekering). But also also check the Legal Aid and Advice Centre for people with lower income (Juridisch Loket 0900 – 8020) see step 5.
Step 2: Check whether you have a legal expenses insurance / rechtsbijstand verzekering
If you have legal expenses insurance, you will either have basic cover or comprehensive cover. The basic cover offers assistance in the case of, for example, criminal law cases. A comprehensive policy can provide cover in specific instances. So for example in relation to consumer and residential issues than you are often automatically insured for:
- legal aid in the event of an (imminent) legal dispute and;
- costs for a lawyer or another legal expert and;
- court fees (such as the costs of interim injunction proceedings, arbitration or a binding opinion) and;
- costs of mediation.
Step 3. Check you policy
Rules apply to the outsourcing of a case to your own lawyer. So for example, the policy may stipulate whether a personal contribution has to be paid. Usually, the policy will state the maximum amount of legal fees to be reimbursed. But incidentally, an insurance policy does not offer (full) cover, for example if:
- the dispute arose before the insurance was taken out and;
- the dispute arose during the first 3 months after the insurance was taken out and;
- a policyholder deliberately acted in an injurious way.
An insurance policy is subject to the obligation that the policyholder registers a case as quickly as possible. It is a strict condition for cover because the insurer first wants to assess the contents of the case. Do not, therefore, rush to commission a lawyer during the orientation phase with your insurance because this may have a detrimental effect on your cover!
Step 4. Choose your free lawyer
So after registering your case, the insurer will first assess its contents and will usually provide assistance themselves if they see grounds for accepting your case. Are you entitled to a free lawyer if the insurer is trying to resolve the dispute? Yes, because legal proceedings are unavoidable despite the insurer’s attempts. So at that point in time, the insurer must cooperate with outsourcing the case to your own lawyer. Than your lawyer is going to initiate proceedings on your behalf.
If your insurer does not see any grounds to accept your case, it is possible to request a second opinion. The lawyer performing the second opinion will advise you on the legal possibilities with regard to your conflict. Depending on the outcome, your case may well be accepted after all
Step 5. If you go to the Legal Aid and Advice Center (Juridisch Loket 0900-8020)
The Legal Aid and Advice Centre can inform you about the possibilities of subsidised legal aid. People on a low income who do not have any capital will be eligible for legal aid in order to minimise their legal costs.
So the Legal Aid and Advice Center gives free advice. And if you need a lawyer they will appoint you one or you choose your own lawyer. If you need a lawyer also terms and conditions apply. For example, you will have to pay a personal contribution. This contribution varies from EUR 214,- to EUR 901,-. You can check this out at the website of De Raad voor Rechtsbijstand.
Because you are eligible for financed legal aid, you can immediately start searching for a lawyer who works for legal aid clients. Also staff at the Legal Aid and Advice Centre will be able to refer you on to a specialised lawyer. You will also receive a discount on your personal contribution.