Legal aid pilot project in Rotterdam-Zuid district begins

The legal aid pilot project in Rotterdam-Zuid city district, which began 1 December, is intended to offer quicker and better solutions to people dealing with problems. The Hillesluis community team, legal-aid lawyers, the Legal Services Counter (Juridisch Loket) and social legal services are working towards this end. The pilot will last a year and has been commissioned by the Ministry of Justice and Security and the City Government of Rotterdam, and is being conducted in collaboration with these parties.

Sander Dekker, Minister for Legal Protection:

'This approach should lead to Hillesluis residents receiving better assistance more quickly. Hopefully this working method can subsequently be introduced in other places in the Netherlands. This trial is intended to find out whether this is feasible.'

One of the most important principles that the revision of the legal aid framework and this pilot is based on is that the focus is always on the individuals seeking justice and their problems. In the pilot, parties will be jointly reviewing the cases that are brought before the Hillesluis community team, to establish, for example, whether there are any legal aspects to the case at hand. To this end, staff from the Legal Services Counter and social legal services will be joining the community team on a weekly basis. If required, the legal assistance providers can provide the necessary help or refer to specialist legal aid provided by a lawyer. In order to properly evaluate the problem, a lawyer can also be consulted by telephone when making the diagnosis.

The objective is to create closer-knit networks and improved connections between the social and legal domains, with those providing aid in closer contact. This should result in people's problems being dealt with by the most suitable party, leading to people receiving quicker and better solutions.