The President of the Macau Lawyers Association (AAM), Jorge Neto Valente, continued to warn against the possible powers granted to authorities to breach professional secrecy included in the draft bill for regulating junket operators and management companies currently under final review.
The wording of the draft bill currently under review by the Legislative Assembly’s second standing committee covering licensing and regulatory matters for junket promoters, sub-agents, management companies, and concessionaires includes a proposed ‘duty of collaboration’ that could provide powers to the authorities to request the disclosure of matters subject to lawyer-client confidentiality or other forms of professional secrecy.
The article mandates that any person or entity must collaborate with the Macau SAR Government and provide all necessary support, providing the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau and Financial Services Bureau with the necessary documents, information, elements or evidence when requested, even if they are subject to the duty of secrecy.
Speaking after an event to announce the schedule for the Lawyers’ Day activities on June 21 and 22, Valente stated that “destroying” this principle was a greatly consequential action for the legal sector.
“I continue to think that in that law, as in others with similar actions, it is incorrect since lawyer-client confidentiality is one of the cornerstones of a free and independent legal profession. Not that that cornerstone can’t be removed, but if it is in fact destroyed people better be aware that the legal vector loses strength and its capacity to intervene in defence of the rule of law,” the AAM President noted.
In previous comments to TDM TV, Valente stated that if the bill passes with the current phrasing lawyers would “of course” follow the law but noted that in court cases where confidentiality is waived, lawyers can reject to take the stand or provide the information.
“I don’t think the AL is interested in following a path of a police state […] [Breaching confidentiality agreements] should be carried out via the legal mechanisms that already exist, I don’t think this is the right way. The phrasing is too vague,” Valente told TDM TV.