Published On: Mon, Sep 2nd, 2019

Parliamentary Inquiry costs more and still you have no legal binding outcome

StMaartenNews LettersDear editor,

If you claim ownership of land and problems occur about the claim, you can go to court and ask a verdict. The judge will check the claim related to the civil code and eventually other legislation in effect. If you don’t agree with the verdict you are entitled to appeal this verdict to see if the higher court has the same opinion.

This will cost a few hundred guilders of procedural fees as well as a few thousand guilders for a lawyer.

If you lose, you might have to pay a (big) part of the legal costs of the other party; again approximately a few thousand guilders.

Total costs can be expected to be in a range of 10.000 – 15.000 guilders and both parties have at the end a definitive, not appealable verdict, which indicated definitively the legal status.

In case of a Parliamentary Inquiry it costs way and way more and you have still no legal binding outcome.

In the general elucidation in the explanatory memorandum on the National Ordinance Parliamentary Inquiry it is stated: “The parliamentary inquiry is a parliamentary instrument of control and an instrument for determining the truth. The parliamentary inquiry can also serve to prepare the way for legislation or to investigate abuses. The main objectives are to determine the truth and to learn lessons for the future. What distinguishes a parliamentary inquiry in principle from other parliamentary investigations, such as working groups or temporary committees, is the fact that in an inquiry, a commission of inquiry has powers that extend not only to the government, but also to the public. This calls for deployment of this instrument with due care.

It must be noted that the question about ownership of Mullet Bay beach already is discussed in Court verdict June 26 2018, AR 8/2018 SXM201800041 by the Court of First Instance of Sint Maarten.

The Court concluded that the ownership in principle is of government unless it is unmistakably legally proven that is it private property.

The so-called owner Sun Resorts however did not delivered the legal proof during that court case but could have proved it in appeal. However for some reason or another they did not appeal the verdict of the Court, meaning that in principle that government is supposed to be owner of the beach.

If still an explicit verdict is wanted, this can – as indicated above – be asked by government in a specific court case to get a so called “declaration for right’ (in Dutch: “verklaring voor recht“). As stated above; you save a lot of money and you know exactly what your legal status is.

An anonymous legal mind