1. Free Legal Assistance
Free Legal Assistance in the Netherlands Antilles is regulated in the Free Legal Assistance Decree (P.B. 1959, no. 198).
This regulation provides free legal assistance to persons, who are impecunious, requesting this service and who are entitled to it.
In this folder you will find in short which conditions you have to comply with in order to be eligible for (free) legal assistance.
2. In which cases is free legal assistance possible?
Free legal assistance can be given in case of:
• civil dispute (for example a labour dispute, divorce cases, alimony cases, rental dispute etc.);
• penal cases.
3. Who is entitled to free legal assistance?
In general people who are indigent and who legally reside in the Netherlands Antilles can be eligible for free legal assistance.
Both Dutch residents and alien residents can be eligible for free legal assistance in civil cases.
When a treaty is applicable, alien non-residents can also be eligible for free legal assistance in civil cases.
Both Dutch residents, alien residents and alien non-residents can be eligible for free legal assistance in penal cases.
4. Who is qualified as “indigent”?
a. In a civil case (but not a labour dispute) or a penal case under indigent is meant: those whose income from labour is equal or less than the legal stipulated minimum wage in category I. This minimum wage for Bonaire is Nafl. 12.471,48 per year, for Curaçao Nafl. 12.000,- per year, for Saba Nafl. 12.000,- per year, for St. Eustatius Nafl. 11.400,- per year and for St. Maarten Nafl. 13.200,- per year.
By income is meant in this case: net income for the income tax.
b. In case of a labour dispute as from August 1, 2000 is meant as indigent: those whose yearly gross income from labour is equal or less than Nafl. 12.000,-
Also those whose yearly gross income is more than Nafl. 12.000,- but equal or less than Nafl. 22.500,-, can lay claim to legal assistance provided he/she pays a contribution to the cashier of Landsontvanger of:
• Nafl. 50,- if the gross income per year is more than Nafl. 12.000,- but equal or less than Nafl. 15.000,-;
• Nafl. 125,- if the gross income per year is more than Nafl. 15.000,- but equal or less than Nafl. 17.500,-;
• Nafl. 225,- if the gross income per year is more than Nafl. 17.500,- but equal or less than Nafl. 20.000,-;
• Nafl. 350,- if the gross income per year is more than Nafl. 20.000,- but equal or less than Nafl. 22.500,-.
In other words as higher the income, a higher contribution is indebted.
Mind you: your contribution is required
only in case of a labour dispute
For this purpose income is defined as: the gross income from labour plus income from side jobs, in case income from side jobs is at least 1/10th of the total yearly gross income.
5. What should you do to be eligible for free legal assistance?
In case of a civil case not being a labour dispute or a penal case you have to visit the Free Legal Assistance Section of the Directorate of Labour with your income tax declaration. You can get this declaration at the Inspectorate of Taxes.
In case of a labour dispute you also have to visit the abovementioned directorate with your pay-slip and if it is applicable to your case, with a receipt of the Landsontvanger for the payment of your contribution.
If you don’t have a pay-slip, you can use your income tax declaration from the Tax Inspectorate, on the understanding that this declaration not only shows the net income but also the gross income from labour.
6. What can you do when you are denied a free legal assistance-card?
In this case you have the possibility to address yourself to the Minister of Justice. In particular cases he may decide to give you a card, if your economic situation is as such, that even though you have a higher taxable income than indicated under paragraph 4, you still are not able to pay the presumed costs of the fee of the attorney. You will have to prove this though.
7. Which steps can be taken when your attorney is not sufficiently looking after your interests, according to your opinion?
If you are of the opinion that the appointed attorney in your case is insufficiently looking after your interests, you can give the Minister of Justice a motivated notice, where after an investigation can be started.