Fewer claims for legal aid when dealing with government organisations

In the last two years, the number of times people have required legal assistance due to a public administration problem has gone down by 10%, writes Sander Dekker, Minister for Legal Protection, in the progress report on legal aid reform.

Minister Dekker:

"The fact that fewer people needed a lawyer to help them in dealing with the government and public authorities is wonderful news. We are bringing back the human element and reducing unnecessary juridification.ยจ

The legal aid reform plans are centred on the resolution of (legal) problems: fewer proceedings, better solutions. The legal profession has repeatedly made clear in recent years that government organisations must also take a critical look at themselves, since people who rely on assistance provided by a lawyer are too often faced with an inflexible government seemingly uninterested in problem-solving.

In response to this signal, the minister has made changing the attitude of government organisations in contacts with citizens with a (legal) problem one of the three key elements in his plans for reforming the system for subsidized legal aid. This is a formidable undertaking.

The progress report on the reform plans highlights the improvements that have been made in the past few years. A shared commitment has enabled the plans to deliver the first results.

One of the assumptions at the start of the overhaul of the system was that a 10% reduction in the number of legal-aid cases in administrative law matters should be achievable between 2017, when the new government took office, and 2024, once the reform plans have been implemented. There has been a clear decrease in the number of legal-aid cases in administrative law matters, from more than 61,000 approved cases in 2017 to nearly 55,000 in 2019, a reduction of more than 10%. The achievement of the stated ambition provides grounds for it to be revised upwards.