LITIGATION IN THE DUTCH CARIBBEAN

If you need a troubleshooter in your corner

The civil court system in the Dutch Caribbean (Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, St. Maarten, St. Eustatius and Saba) consists of three tiers; first instance cases are brought before the Court of First Instance. Appeal cases are brought before the Joint Court of Appeal. When all normal appeal procedures have been exhausted, cassation cases can be brought before the Court of Cassation or Supreme Court (Hoge Raad) in The Hague in the Netherlands.

All adversarial proceedings in the Dutch Caribbean shall be initiated by means of a petition to the Court of First Instance. 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.

In all matters for which an immediate injunction, measure, or decision is required, the parties may address themselves to the Courts. If the matter does not require immediate resolution, the Court will deny the relief sought and refer the parties to the normal procedure. These preliminary relief proceedings (kort geding procedure) differ substantially from, for instance, US summary proceedings.

Appellate proceedings in the Dutch Caribbean provide for a full review of the appealed decision: the grounds on which the Appellate Court can reverse the original judgment are not, as in certain other jurisdictions, limited to procedural matters. It is furthermore permissible to introduce new documentary evidence in the course of appellate proceedings.

Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, St. Maarten, St. Eustatius and Saba are part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The Dutch Supreme Court (Hoge Raad) in The Hague has ultimate jurisdiction over any disputes that may be brought for the courts in any of the islands mentioned.

Parties with a legal dispute can turn to the public court system to settle the dispute; however, instead of bringing a lawsuit in a public court, they can also opt for arbitration. Arbitration is a form of private dispute settlement in which the parties instruct one or more persons (arbitrators) to render a binding decision on their dispute. The arbitrators may be jurists, but they can also be laypersons. People with specific expertise or experience in a certain branch or industry are often chosen as arbitrator.

Spigt Dutch Caribbean is routinely called on to assist clients with their most critical matters. We handle complex commercial litigation, including shareholder and corporate control disputes, director liability issues, contractual disputes, investment management disputes, insurance coverage, regulatory and administrative law, intellectual property infringements, employment disputes, telecommunication matters, real estate related disputes and corporate inquiry proceedings.

We attempt to resolve disputes out-of-court, but if necessary we stand ready to engage in litigation, whether in court or any alternative dispute forum. We also counsel clients on minimizing litigation risks.

Spigt Dutch Caribbean represents a variety of investors, financial institutions, private persons and businesses. The cases we handle are as varied as the clients we represent, who have chosen Spigt Dutch Caribbean because they need a troubleshooter in their corner.

If you have any questions, or if you are considering engaging our firm, please feel free to contact me at Karel.Frielink@SpigtDC.com. We have been life savers for many before you.

Karel Frielink
Attorney (Lawyer) / Partner

(19 February 2014)

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