The Legal Desk will open its doors on Saba for the first time on February 23, 2019. Nathalie Tackling, a legal professional from St. Maarten, will be visiting Saba one weekend per month, with office hours on Saturdays from 8:00am until 12:00pm for walk-ins and from 1:00pm until 5:00pm for appointments. People can email to firstname.lastname@example.org to make appointments and to submit legal questions.
The Legal Desk will open for the first time in Windwardside on February 23. On March 30, the Legal Desk will be in The Bottom. The Legal Desk will alternate locations in The Bottom and Windwardside. The location in the Windwardside is the BMS office adjacent to the Eugenius Johnson Center and in The Bottom at the old day care building.
The Legal Desk can solve relatively simple cases on its own, but it is not meant for complex legal issues or court cases. The Legal Desk can advise people on labor rights and duties, assist with the drafting of simple contracts, the drafting of (complaint) letters, assist people with the correct referral, advise people on family situations such as divorce, child rights and alimony, and to advise people about their lease rights and duties.
The Legal Desk can also help people in understanding letters in the Dutch language about matters such as pension, social welfare, residency and visa, mediation of disputes with for example neighbors, advise on property rights and guide people in the right direction such as the notary, court and government.
The Legal Desk cannot take one’s landlord or tenant to court, evict non-paying tenants, put a lien on a person’s debtor’s bank account or property for non-compliance. It can also not fix land ownership problems on its own without notarial, governmental or court intervention, or enforce and supervise noise complaints. The Legal Desk can also not go to court for one party in a dispute.
Saba is the first island in the Caribbean Netherlands to set up such a help desk in this form for legal aid. The idea to start this pilot was born out of necessity: residents on Saba have limited access to quality legal advice and conflict resolution in the broadest sense.
The initiative to set up the Legal Desk comes from the Public Entity Saba and is realized with the financial assistance of the Dutch Ministry of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations. The Legal Desk has a Facebook page: fb.me/legaldeskDC