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When is a lawyer required?

You have received a summons and must soon appear before the judge who will rule on your case or you may want to start a procedure yourself. When is hiring a lawyer to assist you in your legal dispute a choice and when is hiring a lawyer mandatory? The answer to this question depends on the type of dispute you are dealing with.

Criminal proceedings

When it comes to criminal proceedings, the engagement of a lawyer is never mandatory. In criminal proceedings, the opposing party is not a fellow citizen or organization but the Public Prosecution Service. This body ensures that criminal offenses are detected and prosecuted and works closely with the police. If one receives a summons from the Public Prosecution Service, he is regarded as a suspect and the public prosecutor has decided to prosecute him for committing a criminal offence.

Although it is not mandatory to engage a lawyer in criminal proceedings, it is strongly recommended that you do so. In addition to the fact that lawyers are specialized and can best represent your interests, (formal) errors are sometimes made during the investigation phase by, for example, the police. Recognizing these, often legally fraught, errors requires the professional knowledge a lawyer has and can in some cases lead to a major positive effect on the final verdict, such as acquittal. A lawyer can also be present during your interrogation (and the interrogation of witnesses) and thus ensure your rights.

Administrative procedures

The engagement of a lawyer is also not mandatory in proceedings against government organizations or when you lodge an appeal with the Central Appeals Tribunal or the Administrative Jurisdiction Division of the Council of State. As a citizen or organization you stand against the government, such as the IND, the tax authorities, the municipality, etc. in matters concerning your allowance, benefit and residence permit.

Hiring a lawyer is however a wise choice. A lawyer can properly estimate your chances of success when filing an objection or starting a procedure and knows which arguments must be put forward. A lawyer is also aware of the formal requirements and time limits that apply in administrative law and can therefore manage the administrative procedure properly.

Civil Procedures

A civil case involves a conflict between private individuals and/or private-law organizations. The answer to the question of whether assistance by a lawyer is mandatory is somewhat more complex in civil cases.

If the procedure is pending before a subdistrict court, having a lawyer is not an obligation. The subdistrict court has jurisdiction in cases with an (estimated) claim of less than €25,000 and all employment cases, rental cases, minor criminal cases and disputes about consumer credit and consumer purchase. In all other cases, the procedure is in court or the court of appeal, which makes it mandatory to have a lawyer.

Summary proceedings

Under certain circumstances, it is possible in a civil case to ask the court for a quick (provisional) decision in an emergency procedure. The emergency procedure is also known as summary proceedings. One can think of, for example, the summary proceedings of ‘Viruswaarheid’ about the abolition of the curfew.

If you start summary proceedings yourself at the civil court, it is mandatory to have a lawyer. This is not the case if the proceedings can be started in the subdistrict court or if you defend yourself in summary proceedings against you.

Although engaging a lawyer is not always mandatory, it is often advisable. Lawyers often know all the ins and outs of the profession and how they can best bring your case to a successful conclusion. However, engaging a lawyer is not only useful if you have to or want to go to court. Think, for example, of a notice of objection against a government agency or a fine, a notice of default due to non-performance or a defense when you are in danger of being fired. Given his legal knowledge and skills, engaging a lawyer offers you the best chance of success.

Do you think you need expert advice or legal assistance from a specialized lawyer after reading the article? Please don’t hesitate to contact Law & More. Law & More’s lawyers are experts in the above-mentioned areas of law and are happy to assist you by telephone or e-mail.

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