Costs of judicial proceedings

In the Netherlands the costs of a case depend on the type of proceedings. Court fees are often payable. If you enlist the services of a lawyer, you will have to pay their fees, though you may be eligible for legal aid.

Costs per type of proceedings

For proceedings under administrative law, court fees are payable. Civil law proceedings involve a range of costs, such as court fees, the lawyer’s fees, and possibly the costs of the proceedings. It is therefore a good idea to explore the scope for settling the conflict in a different way, without going to court, for instance by enlisting the aid of a mediator or a legal adviser. Court fees are not payable for criminal proceedings.

Costs of civil proceedings

A range of costs are involved in civil proceedings, such as:

  • the fees charged by a lawyer and a mediator;
  • bailiff’s fees;
  • legal costs, if the court so rules;
  • court fees;
  • expenses incurred by witnesses and experts.

Fees charged by lawyer and bailiff

In civil proceedings, a bailiff is needed to serve a writ of summons on the other party. A bailiff will also recover the outstanding claims awarded. In some situations, such as divorce proceedings, it is obligatory to hire a lawyer.

The way lawyers and bailiffs calculate their fees is not standardised, and it is not always transparent. It is sensible to make enquiries and to reach a clear understanding about these fees in advance.

Court fees

Court fees are payable as a contribution to the costs of the proceedings before a district court. They have to be paid in advance to the court that will be hearing your case. 

Expenses incurred by witnesses and experts

Witnesses and experts who are called to testify incur travel and accommodation expenses. You must pay these costs. Professionals such as doctors, psychologists or accountants also charge an hourly rate for their services. These fees are not covered by any kind of subsidy. However, in civil proceedings, the court cannot compel anyone to call witnesses to testify. It can do so in criminal proceedings, but in criminal proceedings, as already noted, no charges are involved.

When are you eligible for a contribution towards the costs?

In certain cases, the government may pay a certain amount towards the court fees and the fees charged by a lawyer and/or mediator. The subsidised legal aid system involves the assignment of counsel. How much legal aid you receive depends on your income and assets. The costs incurred by the other party are not included in legal aid. In some cases, the court may order you to pay these costs.