Empirical research on paths to justice for SMEs in The Netherlands

May 7, 2012 at 10:01 pm Leave a comment

Amidst a growing body of research of met and unmet legal needs of citizens there is little attention to the legal needs of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). In a recently published paper Marnix Croes, researcher with the Dutch Ministry of Safety and Justice, present the results of a very interesting empirical research from 2006 when managers from 2300 SMEs were asked about legal disputes and resolutions. To the best of my knowledge this is the first studyof this type in a civil law country.

62% of the surveyed managers said that their companies experienced serious problems in 2006. Many report that there was more than one problem – on average those who experienced a problem described 12.7 serious issues with potential legal solution. “Payment of services and goods sold” was the most frequent problem – 37% of the interviewed managers and 45% of all problems. Next comes “Payment for goods and services bought” with 14% of respondents and 9% within problems. “Quality, quantity and delivery time of goods and services bought” was the third most frequently experienced problem – 13% and 17% respectively.

Most often the other party in the issue was another company – 55%. Less frequently the other parties were citizens (20%), governmental agencies (7%) and employees (5%).

An intriguing part of the research discusses the sources of legal advice. A bit surprisingly to me, the most prevalent source of advice were industry associations – 25.9% of the SMEs. Slightly less often the SMEs involved a lawyer – 25.8%. Legal advisor was used by 20% of the SMEs. Court bailiffs are also often part of the process for resolving disputes or grievances.

Negotiation is also important part of the dispute resolution strategies of SMEs. 59% of the companies report that they use negotiation as a way of solving their problems. Particularly often negotiation is used in relation to labour conditions, wages and laying off of employees.

Read here the paper “Companies on their Paths to Justice How Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises in the Netherlands Deal with Potential Legal Problems”

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Entry filed under: Access to Justice, Netherlands.

The politics of access to justice Access to justice jobs: Postdoctoral Researcher on Access to Justice and Sustainable Institutional Development

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