Minister Weerwind increases access to justice

Minister for Legal Protection Franc Weerwind is taking several measures to increase access to justice. The minister is allocating funds to encourage the use of mediation, restorative justice and dispute committees. Court fees will also be reduced. The announced measures complement existing initiatives to increase access to justice.

A dispute or legal problem can happen to anyone. Life events, such as the ending of a relationship, losing a job or a conflict with an employer, but also everyday activities, such as making purchases, often have a legal aspect. In most cases, managing that legal dimension does not pose any problems. When a legal problem or dispute does arise, however, not everyone is able to find a suitable solution. Minister Weerwind aims to change that.

Minister Weerwind:

"Everyone should be able to resolve a legal problem or dispute in an accessible, lasting and appropriate way. This is about so much more than going to court. An appropriate solution can also be found with the help of a mediator, by making payment arrangements or by submitting the dispute to a disputes committee. This is why I am taking steps to strengthen not only the process of going to court, but also the use of these options."

Concrete measures

To strengthen access to legal services, Minister Weerwind is taking additional measures on top of ongoing initiatives. These measures focus on improving the availability of information, increasing the accessibility of (legal) advice and support, and lowering the threshold for obtaining a decision from a neutral body, such as the courts.

Information on solutions to common legal problems and disputes should be accessible, understandable and objective. This is why, for example, the central government website is being updated. To encourage the use of mediation, from 1 March, when referred from the judiciary, mediation will be free of charge for the first two and a half hours. This initial fee will apply for two years and, if it is successful, will become structural. In addition, Minister Weerwind intends to increase the use of restorative justice so that victims and suspects or convicts can discuss and remedy the effects of a (potentially) criminal offence more often. To achieve this, Minister Weerwind is investing an additional €1.2 million.

Another measure Minister Weerwind is taking is to reduce court fees. This comprises fees paid by everyone who wants to bring a case to court. These fees will be reduced by around 13.5 per cent compared to the prevailing price level for most cases. Citizens and businesses can also submit their dispute to a dispute resolution committee. This is a low-threshold approach to dispute resolution. The Stichting Geschillencommissies voor Consumentenzaken (Foundation for Consumer Disputes Committees) plays an important role in this. The subsidy to this organisation will be structurally increased by €260,000.


Minister Weerwind consulted numerous parties, such as the judiciary, representatives of the legal professions and interest groups, to identify bottlenecks and possible measures to complement existing initiatives to strengthen access to justice. A survey was also conducted among citizens and entrepreneurs who have faced legal issues. Minister Weerwind indicated that the measures announced are a first step. A continued effort will be made, in collaboration with parties, to further strengthen access to justice.