Published On: Fri, Dec 23rd, 2022

Louis Brown wins appeal against his dismissal

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PHILIPSBURG – The Appeals Council for Civil Servants Affairs has annulled the national decree that sealed the dismissal of Luis Brown as Secretary-General of the Ministry of Public Housing, Urban Planning, Infrastructure and Environment (VROMI) per June 28, 2021.

Governor Holiday signed the decree based on two articles in the LMA, the rulebook for civil servants. The first article regulates disciplinary measures against civil servants for neglect of duty. The second article regulates these measures: they vary from the lightest punishment (a reprimand) to the heaviest sanction (dismissal). The decree also mentioned that Brown abused his position as (Acting) Head of Domain Affairs by changing a negative advice about the issuance of a water parcel in long lease to Alegria into a positive advice.

On January 17, the Council declared Brown’s objections against his dismissal as unfounded.

The ruling of the Appeals Council describes step by step Brown’s involvement in Alegria’s attempts to obtain the rights of long lease to a water parcel near its Morgan Resort. That involvement included a decision by Brown to inform the country’s attorney (Aernout Kraaijeveld) on May 4, 2020, that there was an agreement about the conditions attached to the long lease. Kraaijeveld in turn informed Alegria about this decision.

The dismissal decree reproached Brown for informing Kraaijeveld without permission from his minister that the country agreed with Alegria’s conditions.

Brown contested that he had no permission with a reference to a phone call with the minister on May 4, as well as emails and Whatsapp-correspondence.

“It cannot be excluded that the minister has given permission to enter into the agreement with Alegria,” the council’s ruling states. “However, there is no evidence that the minister gave explicit permission.”

The judges note that Brown failed to make sure that he had explicit permission in writing and labeled this as neglect of duty.

Brown also contested that he had abused his position as acting head of domain affairs, saying that he was authorized to change a negative into a positive advice. The policy advisor had advised to deny the request for long lease unless Alegria met certain conditions. Brown had changed this into an advice that granted Alegria’s request on the condition that it would abide by the same conditions.

The Appeals Council concluded that Brown did not abuse his position in this case or that he neglected his duties. The governor was authorized to impose disciplinary punishment but Brown noted that dismissal was disproportionate because it lacked a balance of interests.

The ruling notes that the decision-making process was almost completed when a new minister of VROMI (Doran) took office on March 28, 2020. It furthermore describes Brown’s spotless track record since his appointment as Secretary-General on October 10, 2010, and notes that Brown had no personal interest in the matter.

“It is unimaginable that the plaintiff intended to put his function, his relationship with the minister or the general interest at risk,” the ruling states.

The Council ruled that Brown’s dismissal is disproportionate to the nature and the seriousness of his neglect of duty. “The dismissal decision cannot stand.”

The Council declared Brown’s appeal against the national decree of June 28, 2021 founded and ruled that it has to be annulled.


Related articles:
Court justifies dismissal of VROMI’s Secretary-General Louis Brown
Government committed: SG Brown approved Alegria’s right of long lease