The Honorable Minister of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment & Infrastructure Egbert Doran clarified apparent misunderstandings surrounding the Alegria case as it pertains to the request of the payment of fines.
The Minister of VROMI explained that he would not go too in-depth into the specifics of the case as the matter is still being litigated in the courts, however, he would like to shed some light on the situation for the Sint Maarten community to have a better understanding thereon.
“In 2016 Alegria requested water rights for approximately 14,000 m2. When I took office in 2020, this request was still pending. Alegria filed an injunction case to have their request decided upon. Without my permission and without me knowing, a highly placed civil servant informed the then lawyer of Country Sint Maarten that Country Sint Maarten had agreed to a settlement. This was not the case and legal measures have already been taken against that individual for their actions.
“Alegria then initiated another injunction case against Country Sint Maarten whereby they wanted the Court to force Country Sint Maarten to comply with an agreement that persons made on behalf of the country. These persons were not permitted to make such an agreement.
“The Judge ruled that Country Sint Maarten had to comply with the agreement made by these persons. Country Sint Maarten felt as though there were fundamental flaws with the ruling of the injunction judge and filed an appeal. Country Sint Maarten also filed an emergency hearing to have the court’s ruling (to comply) suspended until the appeal filed by Country Sint Maarten was decided upon.
“The Appeal Court granted Country Sint Maarten the suspension of the judgment on October 30th, 2020. This means that Alegria cannot legally claim any funds from Country Sint Maarten until the Appeal Court has ruled in the Civil Appeal case pending.
“There is however a gap between when Country Sint Maarten filed the appeal and when the Appeal Court ruled on the requested suspension. Alegria has served country Sint Maarten via bailiff with a notice for the fines that would have been due between when they served Country Sint Maarten and when the Appeal Court suspended the working of the judgment from the judge in the Court of First Instance.
“While Alegria cannot legally claim the funds from Country Sint Maarten, Alegria does have to notify Country Sint Maarten of its position as it pertains to the fines in question. If Alegria does not notify Country Sint Maarten every six (6) months, the claim for the fines, should Alegria win in appeal (civil court) will be forfeited (the statute of limitations would have expired).
“This is the reason that Alegria has served country Sint Maarten two (2) times; as stated earlier, the judgment to suspend the judgment of the First Judge was rendered in October 2020, we are now one year further. Important to note in this regard is that if Country Sint Maarten should win the court case, the fines will not be due, in any case, Country Sint Maarten shall seek to nullify those amounts as the basis for the fines would be a judgment that would not have been upheld by the Court of Appeals.
“To summarize, Country Sint Maarten has obtained a suspension of any fines claimed by Alegria and this suspension shall last until a verdict is rendered in the civil appeal case by Alegria. The Alegria matter is a complex one as two appeal cases are going on at the moment: one by the civil appeal court and one by the administrative appeal court. It is regrettable that certain media outlets chose to publish an article without contacting me or the Cabinet of VROMI for further clarification. However, I hope to have clarified the matter today," Minister Doran stated.