Rules of Conduct
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.
- An attorney at law must prevent his professional freedom and independence from being jeopardized.
- An attorney at law is not allowed to award or receive any remuneration or commission for bringing in assignments.
An attorney at law must bear in mind that an out-of-court settlement is often preferable to a lawsuit.
An attorney at law must handle any cases he is assigned with care.
2.Relationship with the client
The client’s interest, rather than any of the attorney at law’s own interests, should determine how an attorney at law is to handle his cases.
- An attorney at law is bound by secrecy; he must keep to himself any details about cases he handles, the person of his client, and the nature and scope of his client’s interests.
- An attorney at law 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.
- An attorney at law must impose a similar obligation of secrecy on his assistants and staff.
- The obligation of secrecy continues after the relationship with a client has ended.
- 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 at law will observe such confidentiality also towards his client.
- An attorney-at-law may not represent the interests of two or more parties if the interests of these parties are in conflict or such a conflict is likely to develop as a result.
- An attorney-at-law who represents the interests of two or more parties is generally obligated to withdraw completely from the case as soon as a conflict of interests arises that cannot be resolved immediately.
- An attorney-at-law who represented the interests of two or more parties in a particular case and who withdrew as an attorney-at-law of one or more of those parties shall not act further against the party or parties of whom he withdrew as an attorney-at-law in that case or in the continuation thereof.
- The provisions of the preceding paragraphs shall apply to all attorneys-at-law who are part of the same association.
- An attorney-at-law may not act against a former or existing client of his own or of a colleague within the same firm, except as provided for in the following paragraphs.
- An attorney-at-law may only deviate from the provision of Rule 7, paragraph 5, if:
a. the interests entrusted or to be entrusted to the attorney-at-law do not relate to the same case for which the attorney-at-law or a colleague within the same firm represents or represented the existing or former client, the interests entrusted or to be entrusted to the attorney-at-law were or are also not connected with such a case and it is unlikely that such a connection will arise;
b. an attorney-at-law or his colleague within the same firm does not have any confidential information of any nature from his former or existing client, or case-related information or information relating to the person or business of the former or existing client, which may be relevant in the case against the former or existing client;
c. there is no evidence of any reasonable objections on the part of the former or existing client or on the part of the party who has contacted the attorney-at-law asking him to represent his interests.
- If the provisions of Rule 7, paragraph 6, have not been complied with, an attorney-at-law may still deviate from the provision of Rule 7, paragraph 5, if the party who has contacted the attorney-at-law asking him to represent his interests and the former or existing client against whom the attorney-at-law is to act all give prior consent, based on proper information provided to them, to the attorney-at-law acting as provided for in Rule 7, paragraph 5.
- The provisions of the preceding paragraphs shall apply to all attorneys-at-law who are part of the same association.
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.
- An attorney at law carries full responsibility for handling a case. An attorney at law cannot evade this responsibility by invoking the assignment received from his client. He is not allowed, however, to do anything against his client’s obvious will.
- In case an attorney at law and his client hold different views on how a case should be handled and such conflict cannot be settled by mutual agreement, the attorney at law will have to withdraw.
- Whenever an attorney at law decides to drop an assignment given to him, he must do so carefully and make sure that his client is prejudiced as little as possible.
- When answering questions of mass media or otherwise cooperating in publicizing a case that is or has been handled by him, an attorney at law must put the client’s interest and the care to be observed towards the client first. No attorney at law will lend such cooperation against the client’s obvious will.
- An attorney at law will not contribute to publicity, nor make any publicity or cause it to be promoted, when such publicity is obviously aimed at attracting attention to his acting as an attorney at law for the purpose of bringing in new clients.
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
- 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 at law.
- 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.
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.
- When deciding when to submit documents to 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.
- Submitting a written pleading will only be authorized when it contains nothing more than what the attorney at law has pleaded.
- As soon as oral arguments begin, a copy of the written pleading must be handed to the other party’s attorney at law.
- In 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 in writing and while simultaneously sending a copy of the communication to the other party’s attorney at law, and, in addition, in such time as to give this attorney at law an adequate opportunity to react to such communications.
- After a judgment has been requested, an attorney at law will not be allowed to address the court without the other party’s authorization.
- 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 hearing.
- In criminal cases, an attorney at law will refrain from questioning in advance any witnesses that have been summoned or called by the prosecutor’s office.
- These provisions do not apply to an attorney at law’s own client or any persons employed by or having a special relationship with an attorney at law’s own client.
4.Relations between attorneys at law
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.
- An attorney at law will not contact a party about a matter in which such party, to the attorney at law’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.
- Any attorney at law sending a notification with legal consequences may send such a notification directly to the other party, provided a copy is sent simultaneously to the other party’s attorney at law.
- 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 the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba.
- In addition, an 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”).
An attorney at law is not allowed to call any attorneys at law or ex-attorneys at law 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 ex-attorney at law.
- When an attorney at law commissions a 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.
- This applies also to any cases in which the attorney at law provides legal assistance free of charge.
- 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 consultation with such other attorney at law.
- 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 authorization from the other attorney at law, unless the nonpayment turns out to be the result of incapacity.
- 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.
- 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 it is impossible to consult this president in time.
- An attorney at law must act with care and accuracy in financial matters.
- An attorney at law must avoid incurring any unnecessary expenses. The same applies with regard to the client’s opposing party.
- 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.
- 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 relevant regulations.
- When a client is potentially eligible for free legal assistance and nevertheless prefers not using such assistance, an attorney at law must record this in writing.
- When writing his bills, an attorney at law must charge a salary that is reasonable considering all circumstances.
- An attorney at law is free to agree that salary will only be charged when a specific result is achieved.
- Likewise, an attorney at law may agree that his salary will be a proportional part of the value of the result to be achieved through his assistance.
- 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 salary and out-of-pocket expenses. In case an advance payment has been received or any payments have been received or made for the client in connection with court-determined costs or for any other reason, an attorney at law must mention the amounts thereof in the bill or separately and, whenever required and possible, offset such amounts.
- 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.
- An attorney at law must inform his client as soon as he foresees that the bill will be substantially higher than the original estimate made for the client.
- If a client objects to a bill, the attorney at law will be under the obligation to point out to the client the relevant regulations.
- When a client, challenging all or part of a bill, objects to offsetting such bill against any money he is entitled to, such money will be deposited with the president of the Aruba Bar Association up to the amount challenged.
- When a client challenges a bill that has been offset against the out-of-pocket expenses paid by such client, to such an extent that a full or partial refund of paid out-of-pocket expenses 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- In connection with any claims against his client that have not yet been ratified in a legal proceeding, an 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.
- An attorney at law is not allowed to accept for the payment of his bills any security other than a cash advance, except in special cases and, even then, after consultation with the president of the Aruba Bar Association.
- An attorney at law may offset his bills against advance payments and any other money deposited with him by his clients, the latter to the extent such money can be paid to his clients without any hindrance and to the extent authorized by such clients.
- No offsetting is allowed with any money which by law cannot be attached.
6.A few rules for legal practice
In their 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.
An attorney at law must refrain from providing any factual information which he knows, or is supposed to know, to be incorrect.
Both when speaking and writing, an attorney at law must refrain from expressing himself with unnecessary offence.
- 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.
- 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.
- The provisions laid down in the preceding paragraphs apply also in cases in which an attorney at law provides legal assistance free of charge.
An attorney at law must make sure that the organization and layout of their offices are in agreement with the requirements of good professional practices.
- An attorney at law holding a position on any board charged with the administration of justice or 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.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
- 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 shall apply by analogy.
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 or an inspection commissioned to the president, 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.
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 handling the case and for any advice given.Scroll To Top