Willemstad- The Joint Court of Justice of Aruba, Curaçao, Sint Maarten and Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba (hereinafter referred to as the Court) this morning presented the Annual Report 2016 to the press on Wednesday, May 24, 2017, at the Curaçao branch. Later today, a presentation will also take place on Aruba.
Court President mr. Eunice Saleh presented the Report with Vice-President of the Curaçao and Bonaire offices, mr. Mauritsz de Kort, Director of Management Coryse Barendregt MSc. BBA, and Press Judge mr. Sigmar Carmelia. Together, they explained the events of the previous year and answered questions from the press.
Mission and vision
The Annual Report 2016 has the theme “Vision” referring to the Court’s visionary process completed in that year, resulting in the formulation of a mission and vision for the years 2017 to 2021. The mission emphasizes that the Court should serve as the rule of law with independent and impartial jurisdiction. The vision of the Court contains several core values that have been translated into key goals for the next five years.
The mission and vision of the Court have been achieved through input of the entire organization (bottom up), so there is a broad support.
In order to realize the mission and vision, strong leadership is needed. Therefore, attention has been paid to strengthening the foundation for strong leadership in the future. For example, it has started to train its own judges for future management positions. An example of this was the Management Development training, where several judges, who are already in a management position or aspire to fulfill a leadership position, have participated. At branch level, efforts have also been made to strengthen leadership through coaching programs for department heads.
Quality of jurisdiction
The core task of the Court is jurisdiction. Investments were also made in 2016 to continue to guarantee quality and impartial case law. That the Court is on the right track is evidenced by the positive findings of the judicial review of the law (In Dutch: Justitiële Rijkswetten) in 2015.
There were several activities in 2016 to ensure and improve the quality of the jurisdiction. This was reflected in, among other things, regular jurisprudence meetings by judges and the department of legal support, both in first instance and in appeal. In addition, the necessary legal content courses were provided, given by both local as teachers from the Netherlands.
In 2016, the professionalism of tax law was increased. Since April 30, 2016, tax appeals are available in all islands. At the same time, the organization of tax law has also been amended. As of July 1, 2016, it is possible to file an appeal in cassation.
The frequency of Court sessions has increased in all islands, eliminating a considerable amount of backlogs.
For several years, the Court’s policy has been aimed at attracting more local judges. By 2016, two locals (from Aruba and Curaçao) began their education to become judges, both in Aruba. With these additions, six trainings places have been filled.
Mediation besides Court proceedings (MnR)
As of January 1, 2017, it is possible at the Curaçao branch that parties can be referred by the Court to mediation in order to resolve their dispute outside the Courtroom. The Court thus has a referral function in the MnR route.
First, a member of the mediation team of the Court conducts an intake interview with parties and then refers them to an external, independent mediator. Preparations for this have started in 2016 with internal information and training. By October this year, this will also be possible in Aruba.
As in 2015, the Court achieved a positive financial result. This result is for the most part caused by lower staff costs, as was the case in the previous year. These costs were lower due to the fact that not all vacancies could be filled and lower pension costs due to changes in the pension arrangement implemented by the General Pension Fund Curaçao APC.
The financing of the Court is based on the National Law of the Common Court of Justice and the National Decree Financing Joint Court of Justice. The four countries within the Kingdom for which the Court is dealing with litigation jointly finance the Court.
In 2016, the total inflow of cases at first instance throughout the Court in all jurisdictions was 37,510. This number was 36,188 in the previous year. The total outflow of cases was 35,697. In 2015, the outflow was 35,070. The inflow of cases rose by four per cent in comparison with 2015. This is mainly due to the strong increase in Bonaire (+ 37 per cent) and a slight increase in Curaçao (+ eight per cent) and St. Maarten (+ six per cent).
The registration of appeal cases is central to Curacao. Inflow of appeal cases increased with three per cent from 788 in 2015 to 811 in 2016. The outflow of appeal cases shows a slight decline of minus six per cent mainly in civil cases. In 2016, the outflow was 752 compared to 801 in the previous year.