The draft National Ordinance for Games of Chance (LOK) has been filed to the Parliament of Curacao to propose the alignment of country’s gambling laws with international standards. As the bill anticipates that the lawyers representing gaming license holders shall be subject to accreditation by the Curacao Gaming Authority (CGA), the Bar Association has fiercely objected that the accreditation clause violates applicable legislation and affects the independence of lawyers in the Dutch Caribbean island-country.
Bill Proposes Accreditation:
According to a source, the draft bill filed to the legislature by Curacao finance minister Javier Silvania proposes that the Curacao gaming regulator should introduce an accreditation procedure for the providers of legal services to licensees of online games of chance. As the procedure would also include lawyers, the source reports that the Bar Association objected that the obligation imposed to lawyers to be subjected to such a process would undermine their professional independence.
The Bar Association argues that lawyers are natural persons and not legal entities to compromise the text of the LOK. As reported by Curacao Chronicle, the Association states that the CGA cannot be eligible to assess lawyers’ competence or impose any restrictions other than those prescribed by the current legislation. The association reportedly said: “It is surprising that a lawyer would have to demonstrate they are ‘of good conduct’ as… the LOK prescribes.”
It reportedly added: ‘‘A ban on legal services by lawyers to license holders would be unprecedented and should not be introduced without justification and without consultation of at least the local legal profession and the courts.” According to the Bar Association, the proposed accreditation may also breech the Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights. As reported, this article guarantees the right to freely choose a lawyer.
The lawyers are concerned that the proposed measure could deprive online gaming licensees of their right to freely choose a lawyer, as well as restrict lawyers’ actions to the advantage of the opposing party potentially free from accreditation requirements, as reported by Curacao Chronicle. The Bar Association additionally resorts to the legislation applicable since 1959 to point out that the jurisdiction of the Joint Court of Justice and the Council of Oversight of the Legal Profession exclusively applies to lawyer assessment and disciplinary procedures.
Based on the aforementioned, the Bar Association reportedly requires Members of Parliament to modify the draft provisions referring to accreditation of lawyers for legal service provision to online gaming licensees. As reported, the Association requests an amendment to secure the independence of legal professionals in Curacao.