- Family Affairs, acting under the name of Family Affairs, Advocatuur – Mediation – Coaching (hereinafter: Family Affairs) is a public partnership with limited liability registered as such at the Chamber of Commerce under no. 24452322. Family Affairs has its office at Wijnhaven 44 in Rotterdam (3011 WS).
- Family Affairs is a cooperation of three lawyers on a cost-sharing basis. These three lawyers are Ms S.C. Braun, registered at the Chamber of Commerce for Rotterdam under number 756 683 86, Ms M.C. Houwing, registered at the Chamber of Commerce for Rotterdam under number 244 504 81, and Ms E. Keijzerwaard, registered at the Chamber of Commerce for Rotterdam under number 244 515 30. They will individually act as contractors.
2. Applicability of the General Terms and Conditions
- These General Terms and Conditions apply to and are part of all assignments for (legal) services between one of the contractors of Family Affairs and the client as well as to all agreements arising from it and any further (legal) actions of one of the contractors of Family Affairs with, for or on behalf of the client.
- Once the General Terms and Conditions apply, they also apply without any further application statement to new agreements between the parties and to all extra-contractual relations between the parties, in particular to unlawful acts or tort. Agreements as defined in this paragraph also include activities carried out by Family Affairs on behalf of their client.
- If any stipulation in these General Terms and Conditions is void or nullified, the other terms will remain in full force.
- Family Affairs is entitled to unilaterally amend or complement these General Terms and Conditions. The amended terms are deemed to apply if the client has not objected to the amended terms within one month after the client has been informed of the amended terms.
- The legal relationship between the client and Family Affairs is an agreement for services. Family Affairs will never be held to accept an assignment. Third parties cannot derive any rights from the assignments and the performance thereof.
- Family Affairs will exercise due care as a contractor. All assignments will comprehend best efforts obligations and not result obligations.
- The applicability of Sections 404 and 407, paragraph 2, Book 7, Dutch Civil Code, is explicitly excluded.
- The client grants Family Affairs the authority to call in third parties for the performance of the assignment, if this is deemed necessary by Family Affairs in the context of a proper provision of services. The selection of the third parties to be called in will be effected prudently and in consultation with the client.
- The three lawyers of Family Affairs are entitled to be replaced – for instance in the event of illness or holidays – or to let their practice be taken over by another lawyer of Family Affairs for the performance of the assignment.
- The client has to provide Family Affairs with all data and information that are important for the performance of the activities agreed upon. The client guarantees towards Family Affairs the correctness and completeness of said data and information. The client will always immediately inform Family Affairs of all facts and developments important to the performance of the agreement, also including a change of address and contact data.
- Family Affairs is not held to follow an order of the client, if it is of the opinion that it is contrary to a proper handling of the case and/or to the rules of conduct, legislation and regulations applying to the lawyers working in Family Affairs.
- Family Affairs is entitled – without being held to pay damages – to terminate the legal relationship with the client, if it is of the opinion that the relationship of trust with the client has become disrupted.
- The client has a duty to provide proof of identity. On the basis of the rules of conduct, Family Affairs is held to check and record the client’s CSN data.
Fee / Legal Aid
- The client is held – whether or not upon request – to timely provide information to “the contractor” in question which can be important to establish a right to legal aid (gefinancierde rechtsbijstand/pro deo), to file the application to that end, to supplement the application, to be able to assess the extent of the client’s personal contribution or to assess the right to invoice acts by officials and/or costs of the proceedings. If an application for legal aid has been awarded by the Legal Aid Board (Raad voor Rechtsbijstand), the client will transfer any rights to payment of the costs of the proceedings to the contractor in question.
- The provision of incorrect data or the concealing of data with regard to the application for legal aid can lead to a refusal or withdrawal of the legal aid awarded and even to criminal prosecution. The legal aid paid can be withdrawn with retroactive effect, if due to the applicable legal aid 50% or more of the tax-free allowance has been achieved as a result. The contractor in question does not accept any liability, if the legal aid is not awarded or is withdrawn by the Legal Aid Board. In that case, the client will owe the fee for all activities of the contractor in question in accordance with these General Terms and Conditions.
- If a client does not qualify for legal aid, the contractor in question will invoice the fee agreed upon for the performance of the assignment.
- The activities of the contractor in question will in principle be carried out on the basis of the contractor’s hourly rate. The contractor is free to solely assist a client on the basis of hourly rates and not on the basis of legal aid. The contractor will confirm this to the client in writing.
- The fee will be determined in accordance with the arrangement on accepting the assignment and is included in the confirmation of the assignment. The hourly rate agreed on accepting the assignment can be annually increased on 1 January in accordance with the new hourly rate determined by Family Affairs for that year.
- The expenses advanced by Family Affairs can consist of but are not limited to Court fees, bailiff’s costs, costs for extracts, taxation costs, travel and subsistence costs, translation costs and will be invoiced to the client without any further surcharges.
- On acceptance of the assignment or agreed upon in between, an advance payment of the fee owed and/or disbursements can be determined to be paid by the client before the contractor of Family Affairs commences her activities. Advance payments will always be deducted. A list of the time spent will always be added to the fee statement.
- The payment of fee statements has to be effected within the period mentioned on the fee statement or, in the absence of such a period, within fourteen days after the invoice date. If this period is exceeded, the client will be in default ipso jure, and Family Affairs will be entitled to claim statutory interest and extrajudicial collection costs amounting to 15% of the main sum.
- If a fee statement of Family Affairs is not paid, not paid in time or not paid completely, Family Affairs will be entitled to suspend the activities for the client. This also applies to other assignments carried out by Family Affairs for the client at that moment. In that case, the contractor in question will not accept any liability for any damage suffered by the client arising as a result of the suspension of the activities as referred to here.
- Complaints regarding a fee statement – with regard to its amount or otherwise – have to be submitted to Family Affairs within 14 days after the invoice date at the risk of forfeiture of all rights.
After termination of the agreement of services, the file will be archived and kept on file for five years after which it will be destroyed. The client can request during those years to be provided with the file. Family Affairs can invoice a reasonable compensation to that end.
- Claims of the client to be compensated for damage will expire after one year after the day on which the client became aware of the damage and any liability of the contractor in question for said damage.
- The contractors of Family Affairs are insured against professional liability. A copy of the policy and the terms and conditions will be made available on request. Each and every liability of the contractor in question and Family Affairs will be limited to the sum paid in the case in question on the basis of the professional liability insurance increased by the sum of the excess not paid by the insurer on the basis of the policy terms.
- If for any reason whatsoever no payment is effected on the basis of said insurance, any liability will be limited to the sum of the fees invoiced to the client in the case in question in the year in question.
- Family Affairs will not be liable for shortcomings of the third parties it has called in and will be authorised by the client to accept liability limitations of third parties on the client’s behalf.
- The client will indemnify Family Affairs against all claims of third parties, the reasonable costs of legal aid included, which are connected in any way with the activities carried out for the client, unless these arise from gross negligence or intentional misconduct of Family Affairs.
Clients’ funds the contractor in question keeps on the client’s behalf will be paid into a bank account of the Clients’ Account of Family Affairs with account No. NL20INGB 0006132582 in the name of Stichting Beheer Derdengelden HJK Advocaten. No interest will be paid on clients’ funds in compensation for the costs of the management of the account as mentioned above. Family Affairs reserves the right to charge on costs for management to the client.
Complaints and Disputes
All agreements of assignment between the contractor acting as a lawyer and the client are governed by the internal complaints procedure of Family Affairs. This procedure is included below.
Complaints Procedure of Family Affairs
Clause 1 – Definitions
The following words in this procedure are intended to mean:
*Complaint: each and every written expression of discontent of or on behalf of the client towards the lawyer or the persons working under his responsibility regarding the realisation and performance of the agreement for services, the quality of the services or the amount of the fee statement, not being a complaint as defined in Section 4 of the Counsel Act;
*Complaining party: the client or client’s representative who makes a complaint known;
*Complaints Officer: the lawyer who has been charged with the handling of the complaint.
Clause 2 Scope of Applicability
1. This complaints procedure applies to each and every agreement for services between the lawyers working for Family Affairs (hereinafter: the lawyer) and the client.
2. The lawyer will ensure the handling of complaints in accordance with the complaints procedure.
Clause 3 – Objectives
This complaints procedure has the following objectives:
1. determining a procedure to settle complaints of clients in a constructive way within a reasonable period of time;
2. determining a procedure to establish the cause of the complaint of the client;
3. maintaining and improving existing relationships by way of a proper complaints procedure;
4. to train employees (if any) in responding to complaints in a client-oriented manner;
5. improving the quality of the services by way of the handling and analysis of complaints.
Clause 4 – Information at the commencement of the services
1. This complaints procedure is part of the handbook of Family Affairs and also of the General Terms and Conditions used by the lawyer. The General Terms and Conditions are handed out to the client at the commencement of the agreement for services and are also found on the website of Family Affairs (www.family-affairs.nl).
2. The lawyer points out to the client before entering into the agreement for services that Family Affairs has a complaints procedure and that it applies to the services.
3. The lawyer has included in the agreement for services and/or the General Terms and Conditions the information regarding to which independent party or body a complaint – which has not been solved after having been handled – can be submitted for acquiring a binding decision.
4. Complaints as defined in Clause 1 of this complaints procedure which have not been solved after having been handled can be filed with the District Court in civil-law proceedings.
Clause 5 Internal complaints procedure
1. If a client has approached Family Affairs with a complaint, the complaint will be passed on to Ms S.C. Braun, who will act as the Complaints Officer. The Complaints Officer will offer the client the opportunity to explain the complaint. She will attempt to come to a solution together with the client.
2. The Complaints Officer will handle the complaint within four weeks after receipt of the complaint or will inform the complaining party stating reasons of a deviation of this period while stating the period within which an assessment of the complaint will be given.
3. The Complaints Officer will inform the complaining party in writing of the assessment of the complaint being well-founded with or without stating recommendations.
4. If the complaint has been handled to the client’s satisfaction, either the complaining party and the Complaints Officer will sign the assessment of the complaint being well-founded or the manner in which the complaint will be handled will be confirmed in writing by e-mail by both of them.
Clause 6 Confidentiality and cost-free handling complaints
1. The Complaints Officer and/or the lawyer will exercise confidentiality during the handling of the complaint.
2. The complaining party is not held to pay any compensation for the costs of the handling of the complaint.
Clause 7 Responsibilty
1. The Complaints Officer is responsible for timely handling the complaint.
2. The Complaints Officer will keep the complaining party informed of the handling of the complaint.
3. The Complaints Officer will keep the complaint file up to date.
Clause 8 Complaint registration
1. The complaints officer will register the complaint including the subject of the complaint.
2. A complaint can be classified in various subjects.
If the complaint does not lead to a satisfactory solution on the basis of the complaints procedure of Family Affairs, the client can file a complaint with the Dean of the Bar in the District of Rotterdam.
The agreement for services between the contractor and client in question is governed by Dutch law.
All disputes in connection with the assignment as defined in paragraph a will be settled by the competent court of law in Rotterdam without the client losing the right to act against the contractor in question in her capacity as lawyer under the Lawyer Disciplinary Rules.
General Terms and Conditions 23 January 2020 version