When do you go to court?

If you do not agree with a decision by, for example, the municipality or you are suspected of a criminal offense, you can go to court. You can file a case yourself, but you can also be taken to court. When do you go to the subdistrict court, criminal court, civil court or administrative court? And what do those procedures look like and how much do they cost? You can obtain (free) legal advice from various organizations.

The subdistrict court judge and the civil judge

A conflict between people and/or companies can be brought before a subdistrict court or a civil court. You can go to the subdistrict court judge for the following matters:

  • a dispute about rent, rental debt or overdue maintenance
  • a dispute about an employment contract, for example dissolution and the granting of severance pay
  • a dispute about money, a monetary claim up to and including 5,000
  • violations such as speeding, urinating in public and other minor violations
  • appeal against traffic fines

All other conflicts between people and/or companies are handled by the civil court.

The criminal judge

You go to the criminal court if you are suspected of committing a criminal offense. The criminal judge assesses whether this is the case and, if necessary, imposes a penalty. There is a distinction between cases to be heard and the number of judges who sit. Simple cases are handled by one judge, the police judge. Cases requiring more than one year in prison are heard by three judges. You can end up in three different roles in the criminal court. These are:

  • as a victim
  • as a witness
  • as a suspect

The administrative judge

If governments have a dispute among themselves, they go to the administrative court. If a citizen or company has a dispute with a government body, this will also be dealt with by the administrative court. Things you can think about are permits, benefits or environmental matters. Cases concerning immigration and civil service law are also handled by this judge.

Legal advice in disputes

If you are faced with legal proceedings, it is wise to obtain good legal advice. There are various options for getting advice. For example, you can go to:

  • a legal consultancy firm
  • a lawyer through legal expenses insurance
  • a consumer organization
  • a bailiff or collection agency

(Free) Obtain legal advice

Several consultancy firms offer free advice. You can often get free legal advice from agencies such as the Legal Desk and various legal advice centres. The Ombudsman Foundation also provides advice on matters in certain areas of law.

(Free) Legal assistance with lawsuits

If you have to go to court, you can seek the help of a lawyer. A lawyer will assist you in the procedure and help you to make the case as favorable as possible for you. You can obtain (free) advice from various law firms about the procedure to be followed.

Legal expenses insurance

If you have a legal conflict, it can be useful to have legal expenses insurance. You will of course pay a periodic premium for this. Through this insurance you can request the help of lawyers and lawyers employed by the insurer. Sometimes it happens that the insurer itself arranges a lawyer.

The costs of a procedure

If you go to the civil or administrative court, you will be confronted with costs. The costs involved are:

  • the court fees
  • the costs for legal assistance
  • the costs order

Court fees

This is a fee that must be paid by both parties. You pay this because you go through a procedure. If you have engaged a lawyer, payment is often made via the lawyer’s costs account.

Legal aid costs

If you are entitled to legal assistance and you make use of it, you will have to pay a personal contribution. These costs are somewhere between 90 and 800, depending on your income. Legal aid only covers the costs of a lawyer.

Order for costs

This means that the judge may decide to have the party who has been found in the wrong pay the costs of the other party. If neither party is completely found to be in the wrong, there can be no question of an order for costs.