Published On: Fri, Oct 27th, 2023

Notaries refuse to sign deeds for the transfer of lease land

PHILIPSBURG -- Civil law notaries refuse to sign deeds for the transfer of lease land because the government does not have a policy in place that is in line with the so-called Didam-arrest, Ombudsman Gwendolien Mossel said during a Central Committee meeting where she presented her 2022 annual report.

The matter came to light after a citizen complained to the Ombudsman that he (or she) was unable to obtain a parcel of lease land, even though all dues had been paid.

The Ombudsman referred to a court ruling of August 22, 2023, adding that the discretion of the Minister (of VROMI) to issue land in long lease “is bound by the principles of good governance.”

Didam was the subject of a ruling by the Supreme Court in The Hague in November 2021. The ruling emphasizes that the equality principle forces government entities to offer equal opportunities to potentially interested parties when it intends to sell immovable property. “The government entity will have to create the criteria it will use to select the buyer and these criteria have to be objective, reviewable and reasonable,” the ruling states.

Former Justice Minister Roland Duncan reacted to the ruling with a post on Messenger saying that the principle of good governance applies to all government entities. “Government may not arbitrarily issue long leases and fail to apply these principles,” he wrote. “The minister’s discretion is also limited by and subject to these principles.”

But the government does not really pay attention to these principles. Ombudsman Mossel: “The lack of a public policy has allowed successive ministers to issue lease land to a large degree at their discretion.”

The citizen who complained to the Ombudsman said that the long lease procedure got stuck when the notary refused to transfer the land. The notary informed the complainant that the government must comply with the Didam-requirements first.

Ombudsman Mossel noted that the notary can be held liable if the government does not apply the Didam-principles. “This was communicated to the minister and to the head of domain affairs in May of this year. The notary is waiting for the minister to proceed and the head of domain affairs said that he does not understand why the notary does not carry out his task.”

In September the notaries took the matter a step further: they announced that they have ceased signing deeds for the transfer of lease land because there is no policy. They demand that, as long as such a policy is not in place, the minister confirms in writing that the requirements of the Didam-arrest have been followed.

“It is imperative that the government puts a policy in place expeditiously in accordance with the principles of good governance as outlined in the Didam-arrest,” the Ombudsman concluded.

Watch the Central Committee meeting with Ombudsman here>>>

Related articles: Didam's arrest>>>



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