Complaints & Disputes

For official complaints about a lawyer, one may call on the Supervisory Council of the Bar. Therefore, not on the President. This has been laid down in the Lawyer Federal ordinance (1959). The Supervisory Council functions as Disciplinary Judge for Lawyers.

The President does have a function in the mediation of disputes, before this becomes a complaint. The President can be reached at the following e-mail address: mail@stomplaw.com and he further has office hours on Friday afternoon.

As guideline for examining the actions of lawyers, the rules of conduct for lawyers are in effect. These rules of conduct have been made up by the Sint Maarten Bar, but have been derived from the rules of conduct, which are used in the Netherlands.

The rules have general validity effect. This means that lawyers who are not members of the bar must also comply with these the rules of conduct are also applicable to the other islands of the former Antilles.

The Supervisory Council is approachable and accessible for all who have a complaint about a lawyer. A short, concise note to the secretary of the Council, with mention of the reason for the complaint, is sufficient.

Not only citizens are allowed to lodge complaints, but also lawyers themselves can thrash out a difference of opinion with a confrere or a colleague before the Supervisory Council.

The Supervisory Council is comprised of a judge and two lawyers. First the complainer is given the opportunity to express his or her complaints in writing. The complaint may be about too high a bill from his advisor, in the opinion of the complainer, but it may also be a business-related issue.

The lawyer, against whom the complaint is directed, gets the opportunity from the Supervisory Council, to put up a written defence. In the short term, there is a hearing where both parties may again explain their views further. Both parties may be assisted by a lawyer. These hearings of the Supervisory Council are public as well as the judgments of the Council. Within a reasonable time, the Supervisory Council passes its judgment.

If the Supervisory Council is of the opinion that the lawyer has acted inappropriately, the Council may impose various sanctions.

  • A single/simple warning
  • A reprimand
  • A suspension for a maximum of a year
  • Removal from the list

With a simple warning or a reprimand, the lawyer may continue doing his work. If a temporary suspension is imposed, the lawyer may not work during the period established. Neither shall he be admitted to the General Meetings of the Bar, for the duration of the suspension.

When a lawyer is removed from a list, this means that he may no longer use his title of lawyer and may no longer practise his profession.

If one of the both parties is not in agreement with the judgment of the Supervisory Council, there is always the possibility of lodging an appeal within three weeks at the Appeal Council. This council consists of the President of the Court, supplemented by two lawyers with a higher seniority. The President of the Court may also appoint another experienced lawyer as his replacement.

Complainers who doubt the severity of their complaints or who find the Supervisory Council to be too big a step, may approach the President of the Bar for mediation and advice, at e-mail address: mail@stomplaw.com.