THE THREE STAGES OF LEGAL PROCEEDINGS IN THE DUTCH CARIBBEAN

General observations regarding adversarial proceedings

All adversarial proceedings in the Dutch Caribbean shall be initiated by means of a petition to the Court of First Instance of the Netherlands Antilles or Aruba. Claims will be denied or rejected (afgewezen) by the Court if ruled that they are unfounded. If a claim is denied for reasons other than the merits of the claim then the claimant’s complaint will be declared non-admissible (niet-ontvankelijk). In exceptional cases the petition will be declared void and in some cases the court may rule that it is not competent to hear the case.

An appeal can be filed with the Joint Court of Appeals of the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba (Gemeenschappelijk Hof van Justitie van de Nederlandse Antillen en Aruba). If the claims were rejected in the first instance then the Court of Appeals can confirm or nullify that decision. If a claim is denied for reasons other than the merits of the claim then the claimant’s appeal will be declared non-admissible. A review by the Court of Appeals is a full review and may even be used to submit corrections of one’s own errors and omissions.

The possibility of filing an appeal in cassation with the Supreme Court of the Netherlands (Hoge Raad) is provided by Article 1(1) of the Cassation Regulations for the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba (Cassatieregeling voor de Nederlandse Antillen en Aruba), which is based on Article 23 of the Charter of the Kingdom (Statuut van het Koninkrijk) and has the status of a Kingdom Act (Rijkswet). Pursuant to the same provision, the provisions of Dutch law concerning cassation proceedings in respect of Dutch judgments shall apply to cassation proceedings concerning a judgment rendered by the Joint Court of Appeals of the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba. Article 4 of the regulation provides that the term for filing a cassation appeal is three months, counted from the date of the judgment.

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 (or Aruban) law and that there were no defects in the proceedings leading to the judgment.

Court decisions, even decisions by the Supreme Court, are not binding on courts when deciding future cases. There is no rule of precedent, however, judgments may have binding effect in subsequent proceedings between the same parties regarding the same legal matter. 

Karel Frielink
Attorney (Lawyer) / Partner

(17 April 2010)

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