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Editorial - Confusing picture

It turns out that all decisions of the Rent Committee since 10-10-10 may no longer be valid (see related article). Per that date its members were supposed to be appointed by national decree as St. Maarten had gained country status, which did not happen.

According to the Court of First Instance, this indeed meant the tribunal lacked a legal basis. Therefore, its decision in the case at hand was promptly annulled.

The court did state that such appointments could be made retroactively and this would validate the earlier decisions, provided none of the parties involved objected. The latter seemingly opens the door to all who feel negatively impacted by the committee’s actions in the last five years to still seek redress.

It’s yet another example of how things weren’t always arranged properly when the current relations within the Dutch Kingdom took effect. Others include the so-called “negative list” of former Antillean laws that were not transferred to the new entities, creating a state of “legal limbo” in various areas.

But it’s not just the constitutional reforms. The decision of October 2014 being appealed was based on a regulation that no longer even existed and had been replaced by the current Rent Ordinance six months before.

The committee itself apparently was completely unaware of this fact at the time, something a lawyer handling the matter rightly called “astonishing.” It is not clear to what extent that reality – apart from the legal appointment issue – will have repercussions in other instances, but it certainly adds to the confusing picture.

Take the dispute regarding Lee’s Roadside Grill as reported on in Tuesday’s paper. The committee sided with long leaseholder Water’s Edge Development (WED), but the other party already has announced an appeal and well could find “new” grounds for such from the abovementioned ruling.

If so, those responsible for these oversights will be chiefly to blame.

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