Orde van Advocaten van Aruba

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Rules of Conduct

1.       General Rules

Rule 1

The conduct of an attorney at law must be such that the public's trust in the legal profession or in his own professional services is not damaged.

Rule 2

1.       An attorney at law must prevent his professional freedom and independence from being jeopardized.

2.       An attorney at law is not allowed to award or receive any remuneration or commission for bringing in assignments.

Rule 3

An attorney at law must bear in mind that an out-of-court settlement is often preferable to a lawsuit.

Rule 4

An attorney at law must handle any cases he is assigned with due care.

2.       Relationship with the Client

Rule 5

The client's interest, rather than any of the attorney's own interests, should determine how an attorney is to handle his cases.

Rule 6

1.       An attorney at law is bound by secrecy; he must keep to himself any details about the cases he handles, the person of his client, and the nature and scope of his client's interests.

2.       The attorney will be free to disclose to third parties any knowledge he has gained if he believes this is required for the proper fulfillment of the duties assigned to him, provided the client does not object to such disclosure and to the extent such disclosure is in accordance with good professional practices.

3.       The attorney must impose a similar obligation of secrecy on his assistants and staff.

4.       The obligation of secrecy continues after the relationship with the client has ended.

5.       If an attorney at law has promised confidentiality to another party or such confidentiality arises from the nature of his relationship with a third party, the attorney will observe such confidentiality also towards his client.

Rule 7

1.       An attorney at law must not serve the interests of two or more parties if the interests of such parties are in conflict or are likely to become conflicting.

2.       An attorney at law serving the interests of two or more parties will generally be under the obligation to fully withdraw from the case as soon as a conflict of interests arises that cannot be bridged immediately.

3.       An attorney at law who in a certain case has served the interests of two or more parties and has withdrawn as an attorney to one or more of such parties will not act, in any such case or in the continuation of any such case, against the party or parties with regard to which he has withdrawn.

4.       The provisions of the preceding paragraphs extend to all attorneys at law being part of one and the same group practice.

5.       An attorney at law is not allowed to act against a former client or an existing client of his own or of someone working at the same law firm as he, except as provided in the following paragraphs.

6.       An attorney may deviate from the provision in Rule 7, paragraph 5, only if:

a.       the interests entrusted or to be entrusted to the attorney at law do not concern the same matter with regard to which the former client or existing client was or is being assisted by the attorney at law or someone working at the same law firm as the attorney at law, the interests entrusted or to be entrusted to the attorney at law were or are not related to this matter, and such interests are not likely to become related to this matter,

b.       the attorney law or the other attorney at law working at the same law firm does not hold any sort of confidential information gained from his former client or existing client, nor any information related to such client's case or information concerning the person or the business of the former client or the existing client, which may be relevant to the case against the former client or the existing client,

c.       and no other reasonable objections have been raised by the former or the existing client or by the party which has requested the attorney at law to defend its interests.

7.       Even if the conditions laid down in Rule 7, paragraph 6, have not been met, an attorney at law may nevertheless depart from the provision of Rule 7, paragraph 5, if the party which has requested the attorney to defend its interests and the former or existing client against whom action is to be taken previously consent to the action referred to in Rule 7, paragraph 5, based on proper information provided to them.

8.       The provisions of the preceding paragraphs extend to all attorneys at law being part of one and the same group practice.

Rule 8

An attorney at law must keep his clients informed of any important information, facts, and agreements. If required to prevent any misunderstanding, uncertainty or conflict, he must confirm any important information and agreements to his clients in writing.

Rule 9

1.       An attorney at law is in charge of the case also with regard to his client, but must not do anything against the obvious will of his client. The attorney is liable for whatever the attorney does and cannot waive such liability by referring to the assignment received from his client.

2.       In case the attorney and his client hold different views on how a case should be handled and such conflict cannot be settled by mutual agreement, the attorney will have to withdraw.

3.       An attorney at law must not drop any assignment given to him, at any time that is improper to drop such assignment, unless circumstances so require.

4.       An attorney at law who has dropped his assignment will nevertheless remain under the obligation to take any measures required to prevent damage to his client, to the extent the attorney can reasonably be expected to do so.

Rule 10

1.       When providing information to third parties about any case he is handling or has handled in the past, an attorney at law must take into account not only the client's interests but also any justified other interests. The attorney must not provide any information without authorization from the client and must prevent any misunderstandings as to the capacity in which he is acting.

2.       An attorney at law must act with restraint in allowing inspection of procedural documents.

Rule 11

Any attorney at law who notices that he has failed to properly serve his client's interests must inform his client and, if necessary, advise him to ask for an independent opinion.

3.       Acting in Legal Proceedings

Rule 12

1.       No letters or other communications from one attorney at law to another may be relied on in court, unless such reliance is expressly required by the client's interest, though, in such case, they shall not be invoked without previously consulting with the other party's attorney.

2.       In case such consultation does not lead to a solution, the president of the Aruba Bar Association must be asked for advice before any letters or other communications are relied on in court as mentioned earlier.

Rule 13

Without the consent of the other party's attorney at law, the court or any other authority to whose judgment a case is subjected may be told nothing about the contents of any settlement negotiations conducted between attorneys at law.

Rule 14

1.       When deciding when to file documents with the court or any other authority to whose judgment a case is subjected, an attorney at law must take into account that the other party must be given the opportunity to prepare a reaction to such documents with adequate care, subject to the rules agreed on between the Aruba Bar Association and the Aruban judiciary.

2.       Submitting a written pleading will be allowed only when it contains nothing more than what the attorney at law has pleaded.

3.       As soon as oral arguments begin, a copy of the written pleading must be handed to the other party's attorney at law.

Rule 15

1.       During a pending lawsuit, an attorney at law is not allowed to address the court or any other authority to whose judgment a case is subjected, otherwise than together with the other party's attorney at law, unless he does so in writing and while simultaneously sending a copy of the communication to the other party's attorney at law, and, in addition, with enough time to give this attorney at law an adequate opportunity to react to such communications.

2.       After a ruling has been requested, an attorney at law will not be allowed to address the court without the other party's authorization.

Rule 16

1.       No persons that have been called or are obviously going to be called as witnesses by the other party may be questioned by an attorney at law prior to the examination.

2.       In criminal cases, an attorney at law will refrain from questioning in advance any witnesses that have been subpoenaed or called by the prosecutor's office.

3.       These provisions do not apply to an attorney's own client nor to any persons employed by or having a special relationship with an attorney's own client.

4.       Relations between Attorneys at Law

Rule 17

In the interest of people seeking justice and of the legal profession in general, attorneys at law are required to strive for a mutual relationship based on benevolence and trust.

Rule 18

1.       An attorney at law will not contact a party about a matter in which such party, to the attorney's knowledge, is being assisted by another attorney at law, but through the intervention of such other attorney at law, unless this other attorney at law authorizes him to contact such party directly. This applies also when such party addresses the attorney at law directly.

2.       Any attorney at law sending a notification with legal consequences may send such notification directly to the other party, provided a copy is sent simultaneously to the other party's attorney at law.

Rule 19

1.       Before taking any enforcement measures, an attorney at law must notify his intention to do so to his opposing party or, in case this opposing party is being assisted by an attorney at law, to such attorney at law, all this subject to the directives of the Common Court of Justice of Aruba, Curaçao, Sint-Maarten, and Bonaire, Saba, and Sint-Eustatius.

2.       In addition, the attorney at law is under the obligation to notify the other party's attorney at law of his intention to institute injunction proceedings ("kort geding").

Rule 20

An attorney at law is not allowed to call any attorneys at law or former attorneys at law who appear (or used to appear) in the official list of attorneys at law of the Common Court of Justice of Aruba, Curaçao, and Sint-Maarten, and Bonaire, Saba, and Sint-Eustatius to testify about what they have observed while practicing as attorneys at law, before consulting with the president of the Aruba Bar Association. This rule applies by analogy to the assistants and staff of an attorney at law or former attorney at law.

Rule 21

1.       When an attorney at law commissions any task to another attorney at law while handling a case, he will be responsible for any remunerations and fees payable to such other attorney at law, unless he makes an express reservation.

2.       This applies also to any cases in which the attorney at law provides legal assistance free of charge.

Rule 22

1.       When an attorney at law is requested by someone to take over a case that is already being handled by another attorney at law, he will not provide any assistance until after consulting with such other attorney at law.

2.       Such consultation will not be necessary when the attorney at law is convinced that the client has broken off his relationship with the other attorney at law and has paid the other attorney's final bill for the case in question. In case such bill has not been paid, he will not provide any assistance but with the authorization from the other attorney at law, unless the nonpayment turns out to be the result of incapacity.

3.       If there is any dispute about the amount billed, the attorney at law will be allowed to take up the case, subject to authorization from the president of the Aruba Bar Association and subject to the conditions set by this president.

4.       If the client's interest necessitates immediate assistance, the attorney at law will request authorization to provide such assistance from the president of the Aruba Bar Association, unless this president cannot be consulted in time.

5.       Financial Rules

Rule 23

1.       An attorney at law must act with care and accuracy in financial matters.

2.       An attorney at law must avoid incurring any unnecessary expenses. The same applies with regard to the client's opposing party.

Rule 24

1.       Unless an attorney at law has good reasons to believe that his client is not eligible for free legal assistance, he must discuss with his client, at the time the case begins and subsequently whenever there are reasons to do so, whether there are terms to try and obtain such free legal assistance.

2.       An attorney at law will not stipulate or receive for his work any sort of compensation when handling a case in which he provides free legal assistance, except for any out-of-pocket expenses in accordance with applicable regulations.

3.       When a client is potentially eligible for free legal assistance and nevertheless prefers not to use such assistance, the attorney at law must record this in writing.

Rule 25

1.       When billing, an attorney at law must charge a fee that is reasonable considering all circumstances.

2.       An attorney at law is free to agree that a fee will be charged only when a specific result is achieved.

3.       Likewise, an attorney at law may agree that his fee will be a proportional part of the value of the result to be achieved through his assistance.

4.       An attorney at law must lay out his bills in such a way as to enable the client to see how much is being charged for fees and out-of-pocket expenses. In case a retainer has been received or any payments have been received or made for the client in connection with awarded costs or for any other reason, the attorney at law must mention the amounts thereof in the bill or separately and, whenever required and possible, offset such amounts.

Rule 26

1.       Whenever an attorney at law accepts an assignment, he must discuss the financial consequences thereof with his client and explain how and how often the client will be billed.

2.       The attorney must inform his client as soon as he foresees that the bill will be substantially higher than the original estimate made for the client.

3.       Any amounts received on behalf of the client for the client's maintenance may not be used by the attorney to settle his bill.

Rule 27

1.       If a client objects to a presented bill, the attorney at law will be under the obligation to point out to the client the applicable regulations.

2.       When a client, challenging all or part of a bill, objects to offsetting such bill against any funds he is entitled to, such funds will be deposited with the president of the Aruba Bar Association up to the amount challenged.

3.       When a client challenges a bill that has been offset against the retainer paid by such client, to such an extent that a full or partial refund of the retainer is demanded, the attorney at law will be under the obligation to submit such bill for assessment upon the client's request. The second paragraph will apply by analogy.

4.       Holding back files while waiting for a bill to be paid is a measure an attorney at law must be cautious to take. If the bill is under dispute, the attorney at law will point out to the client the possibility of depositing the billed amount with the president of the Aruba Bar Association until the dispute has been settled.

5.       If a client requests a specification of a bill, the attorney at law must provide such specification. The amount billed may not, as a result, increase with regard to the amount originally billed.

6.       In case the foregoing does not result in payment and the attorney at law proceeds to submit his bill for assessment in accordance with statutory regulations, he will be under the obligation to notify this to his client while sending his client a copy of the bill submitted for assessment.

7.       In connection with any claims of an attorney at law against his client that have not yet been ratified in a legal proceeding, the attorney at law will take no conservatory measures and will not request the client's bankruptcy until after consultation with the president of the Aruba Bar Association.

Rule 28

1.       An attorney at law is not allowed to accept as payment for his bills any security other than a cash advance, except in special cases and, even then, only after consultation with the president of the Aruba Bar Association.

2.       An attorney at law may offset his bills against any retainers and any other funds he may hold in deposit for his client, the latter to the extent such funds can be handed over to his client without any hindrance and to the extent authorized by such client.

3.       No offsetting is allowed with any funds which by law cannot be attached or garnished.

6.       Recruitment and Advertising

Rule 29

Without prejudice to his legal liability, an attorney at law is authorized to advertise his services to the extent such advertising does not constitute a violation of the Rules of Conduct.

Rule 30

An attorney at law must see to it that any advertising done by or for him is in agreement with the care that can be expected of a decent attorney at law and does not infringe attorneys' efforts at establishing a mutual relationship based on benevolence and trust.

Rule 31

An attorney at law is not allowed to do any advertising in which his services are compared to those of any other attorneys at law.

Rule 32

1.       An attorney at law is not allowed to do any advertising by directly and individually approaching potential customers that are not clients.

2.       An attorney at law must refrain from making any attempt at turning a client of another attorney into a client of his own.

Rule 33

An attorney at law is not allowed to advertise specialist knowledge and experience unless it is plausible that he has gained such knowledge and experience.

Rule 34

1.       An attorney at law is not allowed to state the results of cases or his success rate in any advertisements.

2.       Without prior authorization from the client, an attorney at law is not allowed to publicize the details of any cases he is handling or has handled, the person of his client, or the nature and scope of his client's interests.

Rule 35

Attorneys at law advertising together or with other people must avoid creating the impression of cooperation beyond any cooperation that actually exists.

Rule 36

1.       The rates and terms and conditions advertised by an attorney at law must be unambiguous and clear. It must in any case be clear what services such rates and terms and conditions apply to. In addition, the advertisement must show whether the rate includes out-of-pocket expenses and any other costs.

2.       It is not allowed to advertise only minimum prices.

3.       An attorney at law is not allowed to compare his rates or terms and conditions to those of other attorneys at law in his advertisements.

4.       An attorney at law is bound by the rates and terms and conditions he advertises.

Rule 37

The advertising of an attorney at law must not create the impression that someone else is responsible for it.

Rule 38

An attorney at law is not allowed to mention in any advertising – not including the attorney's own website – any positions to which he may have been appointed by a judicial authority, any positions he may hold within the judiciary, nor any positions he may hold within the Bar Association.

7        A Few Rules for Legal Practice

Rule 39

In his contacts with third parties, an attorney at law must prevent any misunderstandings as to the capacity in which he is acting in the situation given.

Rule 40

An attorney at law must refrain from providing any factual information which he knows, or is supposed to know, to be incorrect.

Rule 41

Both when speaking and writing, an attorney at law must refrain from expressing himself with unnecessary offense.

Rule 42

1.       If, when handling a case, an attorney at law contracts the services of third parties or calls any witnesses, he will be responsible for any remunerations and fees they are entitled to, unless he makes an express reservation.

2.       The provision laid down in paragraph 1 does not apply when the attorney at law invites someone to act as an arbitrator or as a binding adviser.

3.       The provisions laid down in the preceding paragraphs apply also in cases in which an attorney at law provides legal assistance free of charge.

Rule 43

1.       An attorney at law must make sure that the organization and layout of his office are in agreement with the requirements of good professional practices.

2.       In general, it must be possible to reach the attorney at law during normal office hours. During his absence, the attorney must provide a proper substitute to take care of his practice.

3.       An attorney at law must act with due care and accuracy in monetary matters.

4.       Any funds received must be handed over to the person entitled to them as soon as possible.

5.       If it is necessary for the attorney at law to keep any funds of his clients or of third parties in his possession for a long time, he will be under the obligation to have such funds available at any time and to make sure that these funds do not get mixed up with funds of his own.

Rule 44

1.       An attorney at law holding a position on any board charged with the administration of justice or any other forms of dispute settlement must refrain from interfering in any cases in which he is working, has worked, or will be involved by virtue of such position.

2.       An attorney at law who is part of a group practice is not allowed to interfere in any cases that have been or are being assessed by a board on which a position is held by any attorney at law belonging to the same group practice, if this attorney at law is or will be involved in the handling of such case by the board.

Rule 45

An attorney at law is allowed to accept an assignment from an intermediary who is not registered as an attorney at law only if he is convinced that such assignment was given with the client's consent and he has moreover reserved the right to consult directly with the client at any time.

Rule 46

1.       An attorney at law is not allowed to have anyone listen in on a phone conversation or to record the contents of a conversation on a sound recording medium without previously notifying the person he is talking to.

2.       In case a conversation with another attorney at law has been recorded on a sound recording medium with the other attorney's consent, rule 12 will apply by analogy.

Rule 47

In case of a disciplinary investigation, or a request for information by the president of the Aruba Bar Association related to a potential disciplinary investigation, the attorney at law being investigated or inspected will be obliged to immediately provide any information requested, without being able to invoke his obligation of secrecy, except in special cases. Any attorney at law who considers invoking the existence of a special case will consult with the president of the Aruba Bar Association.

Rule 48

An attorney at law may allow members of his staff that are not registered as attorneys at law to handle cases only when he has ascertained that they are capable of doing so, when he has defined the boundaries within which they are allowed to act, and when they do so under his supervision. The attorney at law will remain liable towards his client for how the cases are handled and for any advice given.