The Curacao Bar Association has responded fiercely to the draft National Ordinance for Games of Chance (LOK) that was filed in the Parliament of Curacao. The bill aims to align the country’s gambling laws with international standards, with a particular focus on gaming license holders and the legal representation they receive.
According to the proposed bill, lawyers representing gaming license holders would be subject to accreditation by the Curacao Gaming Authority (CGA). However, the Bar Association has strongly objected to this clause, arguing that it violates applicable legislation and undermines the independence of lawyers in Curacao.
The Bar Association has raised several concerns regarding the accreditation procedure for legal service providers to licensees of online games of chance. They argue that imposing an obligation on lawyers to undergo this process undermines their professional independence. The Association emphasizes that lawyers are natural persons and not legal entities, and therefore should not be subjected to such a process.
Furthermore, the Bar Association contends that the CGA does not have the eligibility to assess lawyers’ competence or impose any restrictions beyond those prescribed by current legislation. They assert that the proposed accreditation may also breach Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which 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 and restrict the actions of lawyers to the advantage of the opposing party. They point out that the Joint Court of Justice and the Council of Oversight of the Legal Profession have had exclusive authority over lawyer assessment and disciplinary procedures since 1959.
Based on these concerns, the Bar Association has urged Members of Parliament to modify the draft provisions pertaining to the accreditation of lawyers for legal service provision to online gaming licensees. They have requested an amendment to ensure the independence of legal professionals in Curacao. This pushback from the Bar Association reflects the significant impact that the proposed bill could have on the legal landscape in Curacao.