Complaints and Disputes
If you have any complaints about an attorney at law, you can go to the Supervisory Council for the Legal Profession (“Raad van Toezicht voor de Advocatuur”), as established in the Ordinance on Attorneys at Law (“Advocatenverordening”). The Supervisory Council acts as a disciplinary court for attorneys at law. The complaint can be related to how an attorney at law did his or her job or the amount an attorney at law has billed.
Guidelines for assessing the conduct of an attorney at law can be found in the Rules of Conduct for Attorneys at Law . These rules of conduct have been drawn up by the Aruba Bar Association, but are based on the rules of conduct that exist in the Netherlands. The rules apply to everyone. This means that even attorneys at law who are not members of the Bar Association must comply with them.
The Supervisory Council is easily accessible to anyone who has a complaint about an attorney at law. A short, clearly written note to the secretary of the Council specifying the attorney at law’s name and the reason for the complaint will do. If you have any documents that are related to the complaint, you should enclose them with the note. The documents must then be filed with the registry of the Court of First Instance of Aruba.
Not only citizens may file complaints; even attorneys at law themselves can settle a difference of opinion with a colleague before the Supervisory Council.
The Supervisory Council consists of one judge and two attorneys at law. First, the complainant is given the opportunity to express his or her complaints in writing. The attorney at law against whom the complaint is addressed will then be allowed by the Supervisory Council to present a written defense. Shortly after that, a hearing will be held, where both parties may further explain their points of view. During the hearing, both parties are allowed to be assisted by an attorney at law. These Supervisory Council hearings are public, as well as the rulings of the Council. The Council will give a judgment within a reasonable period of time.
If the Supervisory Council finds that the attorney at law has acted incorrectly, it may impose several different sanctions:
- a single/simple warning;
- a reprimand;
- suspension of no longer than one year;
- elimination from the official list of attorneys at law.
In case of a simple warning or a reprimand, the attorney at law will be allowed to continue working. If a temporary suspension is imposed, the attorney at law will not be allowed to work during that period of time. Throughout the suspension, the attorney at law will also be barred from attending the general meetings of members of the Bar Association, if the attorney at law in question is a member.
When an attorney at law is eliminated from the official list of attorneys at law, this means that he or she will no longer be allowed to use the title of attorney at law nor to practice as such.
If the complaint is about the amount billed, the Supervisory Council will be authorized to determine what constitutes a reasonable remuneration under the given circumstances.
If either of the parties does not agree with the ruling of the Supervisory Council, they still have the opportunity to appeal to the Appeals Council (“Raad van Appèl”) within three weeks. This council consists of the president of the Common Court of Justice, accompanied by two attorneys at law of higher seniority. The president of the Common Court of Justice may also designate another experienced judge to sit in for him or her.
Complainants who are unsure about the weight of their complaints or who feel that going to the Supervisory Council is too big a step may ask the president of the Aruba Bar Association for mediation and advice.Scroll To Top