New procedural rules for civil court cases

Starting August 1, new Rules of Procedure for the handling of civil cases at the Joint Court of Justice of Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten, and of Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba will come into effect.

The Rules of Procedure, which apply to all countries governed by the Joint Court of Justice, were introduced in 2005. After 10 years the Rules needed adaptation and modernization, the Joint Court stated.

A judicial working group, which prepared the new set of regulations requested input from registry staff, judges, lawyers and bailiffs from all islands of the Dutch Caribbean. An Internet consultation was held via the website of the Antillean Lawyers Association to also obtain input from other legal professionals and from the general public.

The new rules are drafted with the intention to clarify the rules that are applicable to civil proceedings and to simplify these. This is especially deemed important because private citizens may also go to the Court of First Instance and to the Joint Court of Justice in appeal cases and litigate in person, without the assistance of an expert lawyer. The Court also expects that the new regulation contributes to more effi ciency and faster procedures.

Under the new Rules receipt stamps are no longer required for copied documents, spokesperson of the Court of First Instance in St. Maarten Judge Mauritsz de Kort explained.

The rules for court hearings and pleadings have also changed. For example, parties are now obligated to be present during hearings and pleadings.

Emergency cases on the merit have been abolished, but in all main cases Judges may now order parties to appear in Court to provide additional information, or to look into the possibilities for a settlement.

In case an injunction has been postponed for three months, the case will be handled according to the regular procedures.

The so-called liquidation tariff has also been increased. The tariff is used to estimate the legal cost of parties.

The losing party in a litigation may be ordered to pay the winner’s legal costs. The conviction to pay the opponent’s legal costs does not include all costs for legal assistance, such as the lawyer’s fees. The payment of legal fees is not based on the actual costs, but is calculated on the basis of a special rate. The liquidation tariff awards points based on the number of legal proceedings and also weighs the fi nancial interests of the case.

The new Rules of Procedure which take effect at the start of next month will also be applicable to pending cases, Judge De Kort explained. The Rules of Procedure are published (in Dutch) on the Joint Court of Justice’s website www.gemhofvanjustitie. Org.

The Daily Herald.

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