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Law-quirk mended by retroactive Rent Committee appointments

PHILIPSBURG--An interesting quirk in the law came to light in late June, whereby St. Maarten Rent Committee decisions since 10-10-10 could be deemed voidable because none of the committee members had been appointed by National Decree (“Landsbesluit”) since then. The Daily Herald has now learned that the appointments have been made by decree, retroactively.

At the time, attorney Joeri Essed of BZSE Attorneys at Law posted to the company’s blogsite that the Court of First Instance had nullified a Committee decision on this basis, and that although it said possible retroactive appointments could validate some decisions, “the playing field is now open for those who have been negatively affected by a decision of the Rent Committee that has been taken after October 10, 2010.”

“On April 13, 2015, the Court...in its capacity of appellate court for decisions taken by the Rent Committee, passed a judgment that may very well have great implications for all decisions taken to date by compositions of the Rent Committee in which one or more of the committee members have not been appointed by Country Decree...”

The grey area provided “food for discussion among legal professionals,” he had posted.

In an invited comment at the time, Ministry of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure VROMI Secretary-General Louis Brown told The Daily Herald that now-former VROMI Minister Marcel Gumbs had approved a proposal to appoint members, and forwarded this to Governor Eugene Holiday for signing on June 22.

According to the new information, the Governor issued the decree on August 28, and this was signed off by VROMI September 29.

The Committee should comprise three members, including a Chairman. While the Chairman position is listed as vacant, the Acting Chairman has been named as Errol Larmonie. The two other committee members are Ingrid Gumbs and Eddie Jacobs, while the acting members are Catherine Connor and Rupert Brown.

A Secretary and Acting Secretary have also been appointed. These are Leyton James and Julia Solagnier respectively.

Disputes taking place within the grey period spanning back to 10-10-10, including those that have been appealed in the Court of First Instance but which have not yet been ruled upon, will once again be reviewed by the Rent Committee.

It could not be ascertained on Thursday how many, if any, people had contested decisions. Some queries had been made to BZSE, but no court cases resulted from it.

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