New vision for a legal aid system in The Netherlands

NovA, the Dutch Bar, alongside the Mediators Federation of the Netherlands (MfN) and the Council for Legal Aid (RvR) outlined their vision for a new legal aid system.

The three organisations are working together for a people-oriented, effective and efficient system. The new system would be one in which the citizen and his or her (legal) request for help are central and in which quality of service is paramount. It would ensure that the citizen who is dependent on funded legal aid has a low-threshold access to justice and is supported with early conflict resolution and adequate legal protection.

This would consist of a learning system, in which the RvR monitors the experiences of citizens and service providers, among other things, and the NOvA and the MfN monitor the quality through peer reviews. The RvR’s Knowledge Center provides insight into the results of the monitoring and the broad results of the peer review, after which the chain partners indicate how they will proceed. In this way it becomes clear which improvements are needed and social advocacy and mediation are strengthened.

A learning and sustainable system requires collegial coordination and coordination between the chain partners. A Collaboration in Primary Care pilot has demonstrated that chain-wide collaboration pays off. The establishment and implementation of the Ratz (Regulation Advice Addition Self-reliance ) is also an example of cooperation through which the citizen is helped more and better. Thanks to the Ratz, citizens who have fallen between two stools due to alleged self-reliance can now receive the legal aid they need.

Read the full story here.

Nederlandse Orde van Advocaten launches a new resilience training programme for lawyers

On the 30th of June 2021, the Nederlandse Orde van Advocaten (NOvA) opened registration for a new resilience training programme for lawyers.  The training is designed to give lawyers practical assistance to address threats encountered during the course of their daily practice. The NOvA developed the training in recognition of the fact that during the course of their professional practice, many lawyers encounter either verbal or physical aggression, threats and invasion of their private life. The training is designed to give lawyers the tools the protect their office and homes, as well as increase awareness of possible risks, and de-escalate situations.

The NOvA is offering 250 places for the free course, with classes starting in August of 2021. Participants will be given theoretical and practical training by both lawyers and securing experts, as well as the opportunity to discuss their own experiences. The emphasis of the course is on improving personal safety and dealing with risky situations through de-escalation of the situation.

Read more about the programme here. (In Dutch, but available via Google Translate)

Nederlandse Orde van Advocaten unveils website to allow consumers to easily access disciplinary rulings

The Nederlandse Orde van Advocaten (NOvA)  has created a website designed to allow consumers to easily access disciplinary rulings. The new feature has been launched as part of the ‘Find a lawyer’ search engine, which allows a litigant to better identify legal counsel. The website had previously shown indicative information about lawyers possibly facing a disciplinary decision, however, the website now includes a feature that allows users to click directly from a lawyer’s profile to access the full ruling of the court and or disciplinary board in relation to a lawyer.

The  zoekeenadvocaat.nl (find a lawyer) which was launched in 2019, provides consumers with the basic information on all lawyers in the Netherlands including contact and address details in registered jurisdictions, membership of specialist associations and whether the lawyer hears cases on the basis of legal aid. If a lawyer is suspended at that time, this is also clearly indicated. Lawyers who have been disbarred are completely removed from the search results.

The results previously contained a short description of any disciplinary decisions where a suspension or cancellation measure has been pronounced. However, it is now also possible to click on the relevant disciplinary decision and read the full decision directly on tuchtrecht.overheid.nl . This provides the litigant with easier access to disciplinary information, giving consumers better access to information when making a decision.

View the find a lawyer search engine here, or read more about the changes here. (Both resources in Dutch, but available via Google Translate)

NOvA launches new platform on diversity

The Nederlandse Orde van Advocaten (NOvA), has recently introduced a new platform designed to promote an inclusive and diverse bar. In 2018, the NOvA drew up a diversity and inclusion statement, the platform is designed to implement and practice some of the recommendations that came out from the statement.  There are currently 37 lawyers who are signed up to the platform.

Together with the NOvA, the participating lawyers in working groups will investigate options and put forward proposals for promoting (awareness of) diversity and inclusion within the legal profession. Issues such as:

  • How can we ensure that more law students with different cultural and/or ethnic backgrounds feel attracted to the legal profession?
  • Once they join the bar, how do we ensure that they stay?
  • Wider issues in the field of inclusion and diversity within the legal profession?

In addition to (online) meetings, a digital community is being developed for mutual communication and knowledge sharing between the platform participants.

Read more about the platform here (in Dutch).

Regulatory responses to COVID-19

We’ve put together the following list to examine different regulator responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. If you have any questions or best practice for the rest of the ICLR community, please do get in touch, and we will be happy to include any of these in the next newsletter.

The Nederlandse Orde Van Advocaten has released a table of all responses to the pandemic that affect those working in the sector, including alternative methods for filing claims, and updates on court closures. Link available here.

The ABA has set up a task force to help Americans and those working in the profession cope with the repercussions of the pandemic, helping to identify areas of need and mobilise volunteer lawyers. Link available here.

The Bar Council of England and Wales has collated all advice on practice and legal aid into one guide, providing an overview of best practice response to the virus for practitioners.  Link available here.

The Victorian Legal Services  Board has published updated CPD guidelines to reflect the challenges presented in attending CPD sessions for lawyers under the current circumstances. Link available here.

The Canadian Bar Association has opened up pandemic planning resources to the profession, as well as releasing a podcast to help practitioners prepare. Link available here.

The SRA have now said that they will allow individual providers to decide how to carry out assessments for Qualifying Law Degrees and the Graduate Diploma in Law. With regards to the Legal Practice course, they have said that course providers may choose how to assess elective courses, and have relaxed the supervision rules for core subjects. Full statement available here.

The Bar Standards Board have decided to cancel upcoming April examinations, with students being asked to wait until the next examination session in August. They are undergoing discussion as to how this will affect pupillage requirements, as the later assessment date, and inability to complete Inns of Court sessions will leave many students unable to demonstrate the necessary requirements to begin a pupillage. Link to statement available here.

Pennsylvania State Governor Tom Wolf has mandated that all law firms and other legal services close their physical offices, in order to limit the spread of the virus. Link available here.