During your first meeting, your lawyer will find out if you are eligible for state-funded legal aid (known in Dutch as ‘toevoeging’).
State-funded legal aid refers to a contribution by the government (Legal Aid Board; Raad voor Rechtsbijstand) to meet your legal expenses, based on the Legal Aid Act (Wet op Rechtsbijstand, Wrb).
First of all, your problem must be legally complex to be eligible for state-funded legal aid. Legal advice must also be needed urgently. If, for example, a social worker or counsellor could help you, you will not be eligible for state-funded legal aid. If you still want to be assisted by a lawyer, you can choose to pay the costs yourself.
If the Legal Aid Board considers your case to be sufficiently complex, you will be means-tested. Your taxable income for the year two years before the current year will be used as reference – this is known as the reference year. If, for example, you submit a request for state-funded legal aid in 2010, the reference year will be 2008.
Every year, the Legal Aid Board sets income and capital thresholds for legal aid. The board will first check whether your taxable income in the reference year is below the income threshold. If your income is above the threshold, you will not be eligible for state-funded legal aid. If your income has dropped considerably since the reference year, you may ask the Legal Aid Board to take another reference year into account, and you might be considered eligible for state-funded legal aid after all.
In the event that your taxable income for the reference year (or the alternative reference year) is below the threshold, your own contribution will be set based on your income. The higher your income, the more you will be asked to contribute yourself. The Legal Aid Board will determine your own contribution. We cannot influence its decision. You then pay this amount to your lawyer.
As well as your income, your capital (e.g. savings) will be taken into account. If you possess too much capital, you will need to pay your lawyer yourself. Every year, the Legal Aid Board sets a threshold for capital. Again, it will look at your capital in the reference year. However, if you have underage children, you may receive an exemption.
You can find information about the current income and capital thresholds, and about the level of your own contribution, on the Legal Aid Board website. If the Legal Aid Board agrees to subsidise your case, the lawyer can work for you during the entire procedural stage once you have paid your own contribution, regardless of the number of hours spent on your case. Your payment will be limited to your own contribution.
Keep in mind that a subsidy from the Legal Aid Board can be applied to just one case and/or procedural stage. For example, if your lawyer needs to file an appeal, an additional subsidy must be requested and you must pay an additional own contribution. Furthermore, if you are confronted with another issue requiring legal advice during a case, a request for a further subsidy could be submitted, based on the aforementioned rules.
If your lawyer receives more than one subsidy for you within a period of six months, your own contribution will usually be cut by 50 percent.
We will invoice you if we need to obtain documents such as extracts from local government records (Gemeentelijke Basis Administratie, GBA) and medical statements, as well as for court fees. These expenses are not covered by the subsidy or your own contribution. You will receive a separate invoice for them.