Assessment of the quality of the legal aid services to Dutch consumers
The Dutch Legal Aid Council (Raad voor Rechtsbijstand, RvR) launched a Consumer Pilot in March 2019 to evaluate the experience in the provision of services by insurers to legal aid beneficiaries, in the field of consumer disputes. Professor Joasia Luzak (Centre for European Legal Studies) was one of the two external experts asked to analyse dossiers of cases within this Consumer Pilot and provide insights on whether the legal aid beneficiaries receive the services in an effective, efficient and useful manner. The framework of evaluation required then the assessment not only of the substantive quality of the legal advice provided by the legal aid services, but also of its transparency, timeliness and appropriateness.
Unfortunately, the evaluation was inhibited due to a small amount of dossiers submitted for the assessment (10 overall). This prevented the experts from drawing any general quantitative or qualitative conclusions. What was observed was that, on the one hand, in 3 out of 10 cases, not only the legal quality of the provision of information and advice could be described as good or excellent, but also the diligence of the lawyer providing the legal aid, as well as the communication with the client and other parties. On the other hand, however, the legal quality of the provision of information and advice fell short in 3 other cases, and in 2 out of these 3 also the diligence of the lawyer providing the legal aid was deemed insufficient. The experts observed serious carelessness, which, however, did not affect the legal quality of the service, in 1 case.
The study has now been presented for and discussed by the Dutch Ministry of Justice and Security and has been published on the website of the RvR.