Calendar Updated: September 25, 2011
MDTF Activities > Report on the study visit to Netherlands 19/09 – 23/09 2011

Report on the study visit to Netherlands 19/09 – 23/09 2011


Working group members

  1. Vojkan Simić Assistant Minister of Justice – Chairman of the FLA WG
  2. Jelena Stevanović Judge, Court of 1st Instance(WGM)
  3. Srbijanka Gajic Ministry of Justice (WGM)
  4. Smilja Rakulj Ministry for human and minority rights, state administration and local government (WGM)
  5. Stevan Arambašić Deputy Ombudsman AP Vojvodina (WGM)
  6. Dragi Krstić Lawyer, Bar Association, Nis (WGM)
  7. Biljana Bjeletić Lawyer, Bar Association, Vojvodina (WGM)
  8. Blažo Nedić Lawyer, Bar Association, Belgrade (WGM)
  9. dr Nikola Bodiroga Professor, Law University, Belgrade (WGM)
  10. Milica Sandić Deputy Prosecutor, Belgrade (WGM)
  11. Vojka Janjić Ministry of Justice, WG secretary (WGM)
  12. Mirjana Bajagić Directot, Birou FLA in Novi Sad (WGM)
  13. Dejan Pasic MoJ Assistant Minister, IT Department
  14. Jasmina Pavlovic Lawyer, Bar Association Belgrade (WGM)
  15. Milan Antonijevic NGO Representative, Belgrade
  16. Dragan Popovic Translator


  1. Bojana Šolević Expert for Access to Justice – MDTF Consultants - PIU
  2. Darja Koturović Consultant for Access to Justice – MDTF Consultants - PIU
  3. Ivana Krstić Professor, Law University, Belgrade and WB Consultant
  4. John Furnari Senior Justice Sector Specialist - WB
Visit to the Legal Aid Board, Utrecht
Topic: Dutch Legal Aid System: Organization & Management
The working group was welcomed by Mr Peter van den Biggelaar, executive director of the Legal Aid Board Netherlands and Mr Herman Schilperoort, Head of Staff. An overview of the functioning of the legal aid board in the Netherlands was presented. This included a brief historical overview of the Dutch legal aid system, as well as a thorough representation of the legal aid board functions and services provided. The members were engaged in a detailed discussion regarding the methods of referral, legal aid providers and mode of private lawyers’ and mediators’ involvement in the system. Considering that these issues represent one of the main points of disagreement among the WG members, it was very useful to learn about the Dutch experience and gain further insight into the system’s functioning. Afterwards, the WG members visited the Legal Service Counter in Utrecht, where they were welcomed by Mr Rien Sonneveld, Chief Operating Officer director of the Legal Services Counter and Mr Jean Verhagen, Branch Manager. The purpose of this visit referred to the understanding of the practical functioning of legal services counters. A number of issues was raised, such as the methods of proceeding actual cases and inquires, the evidence that potential FLA users need to present, ways of testing indigence, etc. Furthermore, we discussed continuous quality assurance of the work in Legal Aid Counters, external monitoring, the role of the Board and other issues related to quality control. Additionally, the question of education and training of employees without legal background was addressed, referring mainly to the clear role separation between legal experts and paralegals. The WG members had an in-depth discussion on the role of the paralegals in the system, in terms of their knowledge, responsibility, and supervision. This was also associated with the matter of FLA providers referring to the relation between legally trained employees and lawyers (potential bar membership). Finally, the relation between the legal aid counters and the board was examined and different views on the reform of the system were elaborated. Throughout the presentation, the ICT system of Legal Aid Counters was demonstrated, provoking major interest of all the WG members, as it seams to be the key tool of the affective system functioning.
Visit law firm Schakenraad, Eindhoven
Guido Schakenraad, partner and chairman of the Viadicte foundation
Topic: Private lawyers’ involvement in FLA provision; quality control
The goal of this visit was to get acquainted with the involvement of private law firms in FLA provision, the methods of referral and duty solicitor scheme. This was a very useful presentation, as it involved numerous details related to the legal system in the Netherlands, statistics on the number of law firms involved in the FLA system, actual number of cases, average number of the FLA beneficiaries and their structure. It provided a clear picture of the functioning of the system, as well as a valuable insight into procedural aspects that are of great interest to the WGM. Our hosts, the lawyers at the Schakenraad law firm, provided us with very detailed info on several aspects of their work, the issues they face, their views of the system (advantages/obstacles) and practical modes of referral. Furthermore, Mr Schakenraad’s presentation on the system of quality control was very important, since one of the key issues in the draft law preparation refers to an establishment of an effective control. The high level of FLA system’s quality achieved in the Netherlands was perceived a role model to be aimed for. In addition, due to the expressed interest of the WGM, a private criminal lawyer also informed us about the methods of FLA provision in criminal cases, in particular regarding the interrogation phase, detention and questioning. We were provided with all the presentations in the electronic form.

The Hague
Reporting to Ministry of Justice, Legal Aid Boards and Stakeholders
Meeting with Bar Association, The Hague
Visit to the Legal Aid Board regional office
Topic: The role of data collection and research. Monitoring of the system
Meeting with the research department of the Legal Aid Board Lia Combrink, senior researcher and Lia Geelen information manager Legal Aid Board. This presentation involved issues of assessment of applications, eligibility criteria, assessment of lawyer’s invoices as well as financial aspects such as payment of lawyers/ lawyer’s fees. We were also informed about the role of LAB and Ministry of Justice, management of the system, the registration of law firms/lawyers and other functions. A thorough discussion took place regarding quality control assurance, monitoring system and data collection, as well as organization & functioning of duty solicitors. This discussion was perceived as crucially important for the future organization of the system in Serbia and it raised important questions that shall be taken into account in drafting the law.
Overall, this study visit was particularly useful, as it provided all the WGM with relevant information on the functioning of the Dutch FLA system, which appears to be pretty satisfactory and effective, characterized by the constant growth of users and providers. The experience we took from Holland will positively assist in clarifying a number of controversial issues and inconsistent viewpoints among the WGM. It also provided important insight on the administration and functions within the FLA system and indicated great importance of an effective ICT that accompanies this process. The importance of this visit is also related to awareness-raising in terms of different types of FLA providers indicating the advantages of including a broader area of organizations in the system of FLA in Serbia. The simplicity and cost effectiveness of the Dutch system certainly represent an important role model that will be taken into account in the establishment of Serbian FLA system. In line with this, the study visit to Netherlands represents very valuable practical experience that contributes to the accomplishment of the objectives of the trust fund and facilitates the FLA WG in drafting the law and establishing an efficient and functional system in Serbia.