Published On: Thu, Jun 1st, 2023

Common Court of Justice reports surplus in 2022

PHILIPSBURG — The Common Court of Justice closed 2022 with a positive balance of 1,330,000 guilders (around $743,000); this amount will be added to the court’s general reserves. During the past five years the court saved 8 million guilders (around $4.4 million) by giving back incidental solidarity contributions to the countries and by adjusting its budgets. This appears from the court’s 2022 annual report.

Starting in 2025 the court will start using the legally established cost price model to determine what the countries have to pay for registered court cases.

In 2022, Mauritsz de Kort became the president of the court; Gertjan Wouters is the vice-president at the court in St. Maarten.

The court handled 31,559 cases in 2002, 16 percent more than the previous year. The number of completed cases was 36,315, 14 percent higher than in 2021.

The Common Court has 216 employees; 25 of them work at the court in St. Maarten: 7 judges, 1 branch manager, 6 for judicial support, 5 for administrative support, 1 for the central support bureau and 5 for the support bureau.

In 2022 two judges who worked in St. Maarten returned to the Netherlands: Sander van Rijen and Paula van der Burgt. When Gertjan Wouters was installed as the court’s vice-president in September, two new judges were also sworn in: Ineke Eskes and Thea Lautenbach, who both worked previously for the court in Curacao. Attorney Suhendra Leon was appointed as acting judge of instruction in training as the successor of Ajamu Baly, who became St. Maarten’s new governor in October.

The official re-opening of the renovated courthouse will take place in the spring of this year.

The court in St. Maarten handled 1,015 civil law cases in 2022 (2021: 1,318), 385 administrative law cases (2021: 404) and 3,261 criminal law cases (2021: 2,695), an increase of 21 percent. The court completed 4,615 cases versus 3,846 in 2021.

Justice does not come cheap. In the 2022 budget, St. Maarten’s contribution to the court was 5,631,000 guilders ($3.1 million). Personnel costs at the court amounted to 3,534,000 guilders ($1.97 million) and 3,331,000 ($1.86 million) in 2021. Exploitation costs were 1,027,000 guilders ($573,743) in 2022 and 1,106,000 ($617,877) the year before.

Between 2016 and 2022 there was 9,153,000 guilders ($5.1 million) available for combating undermining criminality. Due to under-spending there is still 1,098,000 ($613,407) left but this money will remain available for costs related to the fight against undermining criminality.

The Common Court is also the custodian of third-party money; it holds on to this money until the related court cases have been completed. For St. Maarten, the court held 10,813,000 guilders ($6 million) for this purpose, more than 45 percent of the total third-party money under its control.