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Legislation and Regulations

What regulations must attorneys at law comply with? What powers does an attorney at law have? Are there any rules of conduct for attorneys at law and who will keep them to those rules?

The answer to these and other questions can be found in the Ordinance on Attorneys at Law (“Advocatenverordening”). This law provides a description of all the rights and obligations of attorneys at law. It provides detailed regulations all attorneys at law must comply with. Every attorney at law in Aruba must register with the Common Court of Justice and take the oath or make a solemn promise at a public session of the Court (§1).

Paragraph 2 deals with the powers and obligations of attorneys at law. Attorneys at law are authorized, in all cases and before all authorities in Aruba, to promote the interests of their mandators, as well as to represent their mandators wherever this is not prohibited by a general ordinance.

Attorneys at law are under the obligation to keep accounting records that show at any time what money they have in their possession, including in their capacity as trustees and administrators. Such money must be deposited into and maintained in a separate account.

The Ordinance on Attorneys at Law further includes a full paragraph on disciplinary jurisdiction. The purpose of disciplinary jurisdiction is to act against mistakes made by attorneys at law in their legal practice and infringements against the honor of the order of attorneys at law. It is practiced in the first instance by a Supervisory Council (“Raad van Toezicht”) and on appeal by an Appeals Council (“Raad van Appèl”). The Council checks compliance with the Rules of Conduct for Attorneys at Law as drawn up by the Bar Association. For more information, please refer to the chapter on Complaints and Disputes.

The Ordinance on Attorneys at Law also deals with attorney fees. Paragraph 5 reads, “Attorneys at law shall calculate their fees for work they perform in any cases without distinction, as well as for work unrelated to any lawsuit, based on the interest, the extent and complexity of the case, the difficulties involved in the case, and the time spent on it, and based on whether they needed to leave their offices or domiciles for their negotiations.” For more information, please refer to the chapter on Rates.

Attorneys at law are under the obligation to present specified bills to their clients when clients request them. In case of disputes about the fees calculated, it is possible to turn to the Supervisory Council. For more information, please refer to the chapter on Complaints and Disputes.

The Ordinance on Attorneys at Law devotes two paragraphs to persons that are not attorneys at law but nevertheless make a living acting as advisors or attorneys in particular cases. The first category is that of tax advisors (§6). This person needs to obtain a written admission as tax advisor from the Tax Appeals Tribunal (“Raad van Beroep voor Belastingzaken”) before being allowed to act. Admission will be granted if such person, in the opinion of the Tax Appeals Tribunal, is of good social conduct and has successfully completed an exam for tax advisors as established in a national decree containing general measures.

The second category is that of authorized agents (“zaakwaarnemers”) (§7). Anyone who, without being an attorney at law, makes a living representing or assisting people involved in civil cases or acting as a representative in criminal cases must have been admitted as an authorized agent by the Common Court of Justice.

Relevant are also the National Ordinance on Identification of Service Providers (“Landsverordening identificatie bij dienstverlening”) (hereinafter: NIS) and the National Ordinance on the Obligation to Report Unusual Transactions (“Landsverordening meldplicht ongebruikelijke transacties”) (hereinafter: NUT). These national ordinances provide measures aimed at preventing and combating abuse of the financial system for laundering criminally obtained money. Under the NIS, an attorney at law is, in principle, obliged to identify his client. In addition, attorneys at law are under the obligation to report certain transactions to the Unusual Transactions Reporting Office (“Meldpunt Ongebruikelijke Transacties”).

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