The Curacao Bar Association has come out against the draft National Ordinance for Games of Chance (LOK), voicing strong opposition to the proposed accreditation of lawyers representing gaming license holders. The draft bill, submitted to the Curacao Parliament by Finance Minister Javier Silvania, seeks to align the country’s gambling laws with international standards. However, the Bar Association contends that the accreditation clause infringes on applicable legislation and threatens the independence of lawyers in the Dutch Caribbean island-country.
The Association argues that the requirement for lawyers to undergo an accreditation process undermines their professional independence. They assert that lawyers are natural persons and not legal entities, and as such, should not be subject to the proposed procedure. According to the Bar Association, the Curacao Gaming Authority (CGA) does not have the authority to assess lawyers’ competence or impose restrictions beyond those outlined in current legislation.
Furthermore, the Association maintains that the proposed accreditation may violate Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which guarantees the right to freely choose a lawyer. They express concern that the measure could deprive online gaming licensees of their right to choose a lawyer freely and limit lawyers’ actions in favor of the opposing party, potentially free from accreditation requirements.
The Bar Association also points to legislation dating back to 1959, which establishes the exclusive authority of the Joint Court of Justice and the Council of Oversight of the Legal Profession in assessing and disciplining lawyers. Based on these arguments, the Association has called on Members of Parliament to modify the draft provisions related to the accreditation of lawyers providing legal services to online gaming licensees. They seek an amendment to safeguard the independence of legal professionals in Curacao.
The Bar Association’s stance reflects a broader debate surrounding the regulation of gambling and legal representation in the jurisdiction. As the draft National Ordinance for Games of Chance makes its way through the legislative process, the outcome will likely have significant implications for the gaming industry and legal community in Curacao.