Law School to start operations in Sept.

PHILIPSBURG–Persons desirous of studying law will soon have an option to do so right here in St. Maarten, thanks to the starting of operations of a new law school here in September.

Classes for the law school will be held at University of St. Martin (USM), an elated Finance Minister Richard Gibson told reporters at the Council of Ministers Press Briefing on Wednesday.

The committee that was formed to iron out the details of the institution has completed and submitted its report. Gibson said he is happy with this development, noting that some had been sceptical that the plans for a law school would materialise when he announced it last year. As far as the expenses are concerned, Gibson said there are sufficient funds to guarantee the continuity of the law school “for many years to come” and to enable the school to function for years. Once tuition fees are added, this will lead to the institution being able to continue for many years. Gibson said he has asked the persons involved to keep the tuition fees as low as possible.

Gibson said the opening of a law school is significant and historical for St. Maarten. A system has been devised so that persons who would like to become a lawyer can attend and obtain an accredited degree.

“We know that there are many people right now who will apply and who will qualify to enter, but we also know that a lot of people, who have interest who do not qualify at this time. These persons are just as important as those who do qualify. That is the pool of the future and that is the pool to draw from to ensure that there is continuity and to ensure that they can get prepared to qualify and prepare to enter the law school.”

To accommodate all persons desirous of pursuing law studies, the law school will follow a three-tier method: the first tier for persons who will immediately qualify to attend; the second tier for persons who do not fully qualify and will have a programme that they can follow to obtain the qualifications needed to qualify and the third tier will be for persons who are not close to qualifying. Programmes will be in place for the latter group to follow so that they can eventually qualify.

The Minister said his dream of having a law school has to do “with the fact that when we look at those in authority in the judicial apparatus on St. Maarten, we can’t recognise ourselves. It is important to our people. You should be judged by your peers. We have to make sure that we have our peers in authority to be able to comply with that desire that was expressed in the French revolution.”

As it relates to the language of instruction, efforts will be made to have instructions be in English as much as possible, but as St. Maarten is in the Dutch Kingdom and due to the legal structures and institutions in place and the laws being in Dutch, participants will eventually have to be proficient in written and oral Dutch.

Source: The Daily Herald