MONDAY, 22 APRIL 2013
PHILIPSBURG–Dean of the St. Maarten Bar Association Remco Stomp presented the draft for a new national ordinance on the legal profession to Minister of Justice Roland Duncan on Friday.
The existing Lawyers’ Ordinance (Advocatenlandsverordering) dates back from 1959, and is in need of revision. Therefore, the Bar Associations of St. Maarten, Aruba and Curaçao cooperated in putting together a new draft-ordinance, with the assistance of member of the Joint Court of Justice and Constitutional Court of St. Maarten Judge Jan de Boer. Lawyers and Joint Court judges were also consulted, said Stomp in a statement.
The main changes to the ordinance include the obligation for all lawyers to join the Bar Association. This is currently not the case. Not all lawyers in St. Maarten are currently members of the Bar Association.
In the new ordinance, it is also stipulated that the Bar Association will become an independent body of governance, as stipulated in Article 98 of the St. Maarten Constitution.
This would enable the Bar Association to issue ordinances concerning the legal practice, which are binding to all lawyers in St. Maarten, as well as to visiting lawyers from Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao. The ordinances are to be submitted for review to the Minister of Justice.
The Bar Association is also to establish a mandatory professional training for new lawyers (on the job training), which is to be closed off with an exam. Professional training is already provided at this moment, but is not yet mandatory.
The regulations concerning disciplinary proceedings against lawyers remain largely unchanged, except for the fact that all complaints against lawyers will have to be submitted to the dean. The dean, or his deputy, will investigate the complaint and start mediation.
In case mediation proves to be unsuccessful, the complaint can be submitted, as is currently also the case, with the Supervisory Board. The Supervisory Board’s decision can be appealed at the Council of Appeal. Both the Supervisory Board and the Council of Appeal have a judge in their midst.
After the Minister of Justice and the Council of Ministers have agreed with these proposals, these will be submitted to the Council of Advice. Subsequently, the draft-ordinance will be submitted to Parliament.
“It is the intention for the new ordinance to enter into force on January 1, 2014,” Stomp stated.