PHILIPSBURG–Minister of Justice Cornelius de Weever reminded the public on Wednesday about the possibility of using the small claims court for any outstanding issues between parties.
St. Maarten already had the provision in place as mentioned in Article 862 E.V. Rechtsvordering, with a court fee of NAf. 50 (US $27.50), but it is hardly used. Few seem to be aware of this provision, he said.
The small claims court is intended to resolve civil cases involving claims of up to a maximum of NAf. 10,000. The minister said the rules are simplified and the hearing is informal. Costs of the legal procedures are kept low because attorneys and marshals are not involved, as the claimant is allowed to present his or her case without the assistance of a lawyer.
Persons will be able to file claims such as breaches of written and verbal contracts, return of down payments, return of payments for defective merchandise or faulty workmanship, damage to property, personal injury, etc. Forms will be printed and placed at the Court of First Instance for anyone to start proceedings.
The person in dispute will get three weeks to respond to the claim against him or her.
If there is no response the judge will render a verdict. The possibility to hear both parties is also possible without lawyers.