To date, an insured appeal to the free choice lawyer is only honoured by legal expenses insurers when legal proceedings actually have to be initiated. During the preliminary phase (mediation / extrajudicial negotiations), the insured person is in that case assigned a lawyer by the legal expenses insurer. However, if the insured person does not want legal assistance of the assigned lawyer of the insurance company, he/she has to pay the lawyer of his choice for his services in the preliminary phase of the legal proceedings. Nevertheless, this has now changed; the European Court of Justice has recently issued a judgment on May 14th, 2020, stating that an insured person under a legal expenses insurance has also a free choice of lawyer in the phase prior to legal proceedings. The Court has considered that the term “proceedings” (within the meaning of Article 201 of Directive 2009/138) should imply any stage, even a preliminary stage, which is capable of leading to proceedings before a judicial body.
On the basis of the aforementioned judgment of the European Court of Justice, if you are insured for legal assistance, you can contact us for legal assistance at the preliminary stage of legal proceedings, at the expense of your legal expenses insurance. Please make sure to report the legal issue to your legal expenses insurer on time.
Do you have a legal issue and are you insured for legal assistance? Please contact us on time so that we become involved in the issue at an early stage.
Have you been referred to a lawyer by your legal expenses insurer for an ongoing issue and would you like to be assisted by our firm? Do not hesitate to contact Schelstraete Law Firm.