- Every little helps? Approaches to Multiple Claimants as Part of the Legal Aid Dilemma
- Book title
- Legal aid in the Low Countries
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Law (FdR)
The Dutch system of subsidised legal aid is under fire. This is not a new phenomenon, and legal aid is not the only target. In the 2012 annual report of the Council of State, the nation’s supreme legal advisory body, its Vice-President, Piet Hein Donner, the so-called "Viceroy of the Netherlands", effectively announced the end of the welfare state as we now know it. And a year earlier the Minister of State for Security and Justice suggested that the current system of legal aid was no longer tenable. In some ways, then, this book comes an opportune moment, and in some ways it does not. This is the right time because we can already hear the rumbling of the approaching thunderstorm, but it is also premature because we cannot yet be sure where and how the storm will break. This contribution concerns the tenability of the system, the question of where its major costs lie and the measures which have been taken, or are being considered, to rein in that expense. Particular attention will be paid to a specific issue which is quite frequently cited as undermining the basic purpose of subsidised legal aid: assuring ordinary citizen access to the law. That is the fact that almost a fifth of all legal aid "certificates" issued in the Netherlands go to only 4 per cent of legal aid consumers, the so-called "multiple claimants". These are either people who face legal problems on a regular or systematic basis or individuals who suddenly encounter numerous such problems simultaneously. Before going into the phenomenon of multiple claimants in greater detail, at first a brief outline of the system itself shall be provided and of the policy challenges as perceived by the Minister of State for Security and Justice.
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