Free legal assistance
Some parents find it difficult to contact us themselves. Others would like independent legal assistance. Parents who want this are now entitled to a free lawyer. This lawyer can help them during the recovery process. Parents can apply for this free legal aid at the Legal Aid Board (Raad voor Rechtsbijstand).
Who is the free legal assistance for?
All parents that have been affected by the childcare benefit affair are entitled to free legal assistance. This is known as legal aid.
It is subject to 2 conditions:
- You are involved in proceedings with us concerning the restoration of childcare benefit.
- You do not have your own legal assistance insurance that covers the full costs of legal assistance during the restoration process.
How does it work?
If you would like to make use of the free legal aid, please register with the Legal Aid Board. We cannot do this for you; you have to do it yourself.
You can register as follows:
Step 1. Download the application form from the website of the Legal Aid Board (Website and form only available in Dutch).
Step 2. Complete the form and return it to the Legal Aid Board. If you wish, your personal case officer or our Service Team can help you complete the form. When you apply, send proof that you have registered with us. For example, a copy of the 'confirmation of receipt of the notification of reassessment with Benefits'. Or the letter from the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration stating that you have been acknowledged as an affected parent.
Step 3. The Legal Aid Board will suggest a number of lawyers based on your information. You make a choice from these lawyers. The Legal Aid Board will put you in touch with the lawyer of your choice.
Even if you already have a lawyer, you can make use of this free legal aid scheme. In that case, you must enter the name of your lawyer on the form.
What costs are reimbursed?
The Legal Aid Board reimburses the expenses made by your lawyer in assisting you in your dealings with us.
They pay the lawyer directly.
What costs are not reimbursed?
The free legal aid scheme only applies to problems concerning the childcare benefit.
The scheme does not apply to:
- other proceedings with the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration or Benefits.
- follow-up proceedings with municipalities or other institutions.
The lawyer that the Legal Aid Board assigns to you can help you with other cases, but this will not be free of charge. In some cases, however, a grant may be available.
Frequently asked questions
Is the legal assistance completely free?
Yes. You do not have to pay a contribution. Your income or assets are not taken into consideration either.
I have already engaged a lawyer and the work has already been concluded. Am I entitled to free legal aid for this retroactively?No, the scheme only applies to cases that are ongoing or have yet to commence at the time the scheme is launched. The official start date is 2 March 2021.
No, the scheme only applies to cases that are ongoing or have yet to commence at the time the scheme is launched. The official start date is 2 March 2021.
Am I also entitled to free legal aid for the Catshuis Childcare Benefit scheme (€30.000)?
No, the arrangement does not apply to the Catshuis scheme. No contact with you is needed for the short assessment in which we determine if you are eligible for €30,000.
Legal aid is only available for the "full assessment" of your situation. During a full assessment we take a detailed look at your situation.
I don't live in the Netherlands any more. Am I entitled to this scheme?
Yes, you are. It doesn't matter where you live now. Or what nationality you have. It is important to know that you will be assigned a lawyer in the Netherlands, not in the country where you live now.
The only exception to this rule is made for parents who live in the Caribean Netherlands. If you live in the Caribean Netherlands and you had already appointed your own lawyer before 15 March 2021, you can keep this lawyer. Discuss using this arrangement with your lawyer. If your lawyer agrees, he or she must return to you the fees you have already paid. State the name of your lawyer in the application form.
What can a lawyer do for me?
A lawyer can guide and advise you throughout the process.
- Help with preparing for and participating in parent meetings.
- Assistance with gathering and reviewing documents needed for your assessment.
- Explaining your provisional decision and, if you wish, submitting an opinion on it on your behalf.
- Objecting to the outcome of your assessment.
- Assisting you during the objection phase. This could entail participating in hearings of the Advisory Committee Regarding Objections.
- Petitioning the Committee on Actual Damages on your behalf and participating in hearings of the committee.
- Appealing against the decision of the Allowance Restoration Organisation following the advice of the Committee on Actual Damages.
Is legal assistance compulsory?
No, it is not compulsory to seek legal assistance. If you have been affected you are eligible for compensation, even without legal assistance. All parents who want a 'full assessment' are assisted by a personal case officer. This is your regular contact person at the Allowance Restoration Organisation who will guide you and answer your questions as well as possible.
I already have a lawyer. Will the costs be reimbursed retroactively?
If you already have a lawyer, the Legal Aid Board can 'assign' this lawyer. This allows him or her to continue to represent you.
This lawyer has to reimburse you for the fees already paid. Discuss this arrangement with your lawyer. Submit the form mentioned in step 1 in which you state the name of the lawyer.
Your case must still be pending with us to be retroactively eligible for a lawyer.
I have been contacted by a lawyer. How do I know if this lawyer is also covered by the free legal assistance scheme?
It has come to our notice that some parents have been approached by companies or individuals offering legal assistance. There is nothing wrong with offering assistance. However, we also understand that not all of these providers are transparent regarding who they are, what exactly they can do for you and at what it costs. Ask the Legal Aid Board whether this lawyer is part of the scheme.
Our advice: carefully look into who you are dealing with before you engage any person or company andd before you share any personal information! For example, your date of birth, bank account number or citizen service number (BSN).
The Allowance Restoration Organisation does not pass on personal data to other organisations, except to municipalities and a few implementing organisations - and even then only under strict conditions. If someone claims they received your information from the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration, that is not true.
Organisations may have found your information on social media, such as Facebook and Twitter. Therefore, always be careful about what you post about your situation on social media.
Can this lawyer also help me with other problems?
The Legal Aid Board will put you in touch with a lawyer who can help you with your case against the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration and with related problems. The lawyer they introduce to you is specialised in these matters. The lawyer's legal assistance in the case against the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration is free.
In case you want this same lawyer to help you in cases against other parties, the lawyer will apply separately to the Legal Aid Board for an assignment on your behalf. This is not free. In this case, you pay a personal contribution. Once the case is closed, the result is assessed. This may also result in extra expenses for you. Read more about the result assessment on the website of the Legal Aid Board (in Dutch).
I want to appoint a lawyer for problems caused by the benefits affair. Can I do that through the Legal Aid Board?
Yes. If you qualify for subsidised legal aid on the basis of your income and capital, you can apply to the Legal Aid Board for a 'regular' (standard) assigned lawyer. Your lawyer can make this application for you. You do however have to pay a contribution for this assigned lawyer.
My objection to the recovery assessment was overruled. I want to appeal this ruling. Does the free legal aid apply to that too?
No. The grant scheme applies until the end of the objection phase:
- against the restore decision
- and/or against the decision following your application for compensation for actual damages.