THE DUTCH CARIBBEAN JUDICIAL SYSTEM

A well developed system

The judicial system of the various islands in the Dutch Caribbean (Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, St. Maarten, Saba and St. Eustatius) is independent, has a long history, and is well developed. It is capable of resolving complex commercial disputes in a just and efficient manner. The judges in the Dutch Caribbean are well-trained, professional judges.

In general, parties in civil proceedings have the right to appeal to the Joint Court of Appeal of Aruba, Curacao and St. Maarten and of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius en Saba (‘Gemeenschappelijk Hof van Justitie van Aruba, Curacao en St. Maarten en van Bonaire, St. Eustatius en Saba’) and to further appeal to the Supreme Court of the Netherlands (‘de Hoge Raad der Nederlanden’). The Supreme Court of the Netherlands is the highest court for the Netherlands and the Dutch Caribbean.

The interpretation of the laws of the islands of the Dutch Caribbean is based on the wording of the law itself, parliamentary history and prior judgments of the Supreme Court of the Netherlands (and to some extent of the lower courts in the Kingdom).

It should be added that to anyone not accustomed to Dutch Caribbean litigation practice, judgments on the merits as rendered by the courts in the Dutch Caribbean may appear to be rather short. Generally speaking and compared to the practices in many other jurisdictions, Dutch Caribbean judgments have a tendency to be quite brief. The brevity of such judgments should not be taken as any indication that they are of a temporary or summary nature only.

Karel Frielink
Attorney (Lawyer) / Partner

(21 September 2011)

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