DUTCH CARIBBEAN LITIGATION AND THE ESTABLISHMENT OF FACTS

Failing to contest may make a fact true

Facts play an important role in civil litigation. Facts are established by the Court in First Instance of the Netherlands Antilles or Aruba and by the Joint Court of Appeal of the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba, not by the Supreme Court. A review by the Supreme Court is not a full review, but is limited to verifying that the Court whose judgment is under review has not breached Netherlands Antilles laws (or Aruban laws as the case may be) and that there have been no defects in the proceedings resulting in the judgment.

It is a standard rule in Netherlands Antilles and Aruban civil proceedings that if one party takes a certain position in respect of the facts and the other party fails to contest that position, that the court will accept the first party’s position. In other words, if one party states a fact and it is not contested by the other party, such fact would be deemed true.

The statement by the Court that a party failed to contest a certain position, is equivalent to that position being established by the Court. A conclusion reached after extensive debate has, for instance, just as much binding effect (res judicata) as one reached because the other party failed to contest the underlying facts. Even a default judgment has binding effect. Judgments in proceedings on the merits which are no longer subject to an ordinary legal remedy acquire res judicata under the Netherlands Antilles and Aruban Code of Civil Procedure, i.e. they have binding effect in subsequent proceedings between the same parties regarding the same legal matter. 

Karel Frielink
Attorney (Lawyer) / Partner

(23 March 2010)

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