In an audacious effort, a number of Dutch attorneys have sent an open letter to Minister of Legal Protection Franc Weerwind, pushing the Dutch government to oppose the disputed Maltese law known as Bill 55. The open letter, written by five attorneys involved in lawsuits against gaming corporations, urges the government to reject Bill 55, which they claim “seriously undermines European law.” Legal professionals are particularly worried about the law’s possible impact on the European legal environment.
The collective voice of Dutch attorneys underscores the importance of the Dutch government stating its position on Bill 55, a law passed in Malta in June. This legislation seeks to protect gaming operators with Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) licenses from legal liabilities arising from their authorised activity.
The open letter was signed by five attorneys, including Benzi Loonstein, Herman Loonstein, Johan Oosterhagen of Loonstein attorneys, and Martijn Bonefaas and Anton Heilig of Van Diepen Van der Kroef Lawyers. Their participation in litigation against MGA-licensed gaming businesses operating in the European grey market gives them with a comprehensive understanding of the law’s consequences.
The lawyers’ letter draws parallels between their efforts and the legal proceedings in Austria and Germany, where higher courts have ruled gambling companies liable for a consumer’s historical losses. This precedent could potentially shape future legal decisions in the Netherlands.
The signatories assert that the MGA-licensed operators, who offered gambling without a license from the Dutch regulator Kansspelautoriteit (KSA), should be held accountable for compensating players for all incurred losses. They underscore that the companies were operating “illegally,” thus violating Article 1 of the Dutch Betting and Gaming Act (KOA), which should obligate them to compensate players.
Highlighting both European and Dutch jurisprudence, the lawyers argue that Bill 55 breaches the Recast Brussels Regulation, an EU law governing legal judgements between member states. The lawyers contest this law’s impact on the independent judiciaries and legislatures of both the Netherlands and Malta.
The open letter concludes with a call to action, urging the Dutch government to champion the interests of affected Dutch citizens and to ensure that Malta refrains from undermining the Rule of Law enshrined in the EU treaties. The lawyers emphasize the necessity of preserving the integrity of the legal systems within the EU.
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