Choosing a lawyer in The Netherlands – free choice of lawyer
Category: Employment law
In case you have a legal expenses insurance in the Netherlands, you can from now on choose you own lawyer in legal or administrative proceedings.
Following a request from the Supreme Court in the Netherlands to give a preliminary ruling, the European Court of Justice ruled on November 7, 2013 that legal expenses insurers (such as DAS, ARAG, SRK, ACHMEA etc.) can no longer deny their insured persons to choose their own lawyer.
In this case an insured person (insured by DAS), requested DAS to compensate him for the legal costs of his lawyer in legal proceedings against his employer.
DAS refused to pay the costs based on their insurance policy. Large scale legal expenses insurers such as DAS have their own legal advisers. The largest part of these advisors are not lawyers (not connected to the Bar Association). Based on the policy of DAS, the insured person did not have the right to choose his own attorney, since DAS offered him one of their own legal advisers. The insured person could only choose his own lawyer if the insurer would have decided that the handling of the case should be subcontracted to an external lawyer.
Free choice of a lawyer in The Netherlands
The European Court of Justice ruled that based on the Council Directive 87/344/EEC people with a legal expenses insurance have the right to choose their own legal counsel (lawyer) in legal or administrative proceedings. The free choice of a lawyer can no longer be limited to situations where the insurer decides that an external legal adviser should be engaged or where legal representation is compulsory.
Most legal expenses insurers such as DAS already revised their policies in this regard. In case legal or administrative proceedings arise, insured persons are granted the opportunity to choose their own lawyer. Insurers may fix the insured amount for the costs of (external) legal assistance or increase the premium amount. Also, consent by the legal expenses insurer with regard to the need to start proceedings is often an issue.
Second opinion by a lawyer in The Netherlands
In case you doubt whether legal proceedings should be filed by your legal expenses insurance, or in case you seek legal assistance, the attorneys of Blenheim are ready to assist you and to provide you with a second opinion if necessary.
For further information please contact Rachelle Mourits.