September 25, 2012 6:20 PM
PHILIPSBURG--The lien and other attachments placed on Emilio Wilson Estate by Rainforest Adventures were lifted from the estate by the Court of First Instance on Friday, September 21.
With this ruling, there is no obstacle to government taking ownership of the estate, the estate owners stated in a press release on Monday, September 24. They have presented the ruling to government and have urged government to proceed with the purchase as soon as possible.
In a court hearing on September 7, attorneys for the estate owners, Brenda Brooks and Mark Meijjer, argued that the cooperation agreement between owners and Rain Forest specifically allows them to sell the estate to government. Owners also argued that Rain Forest unilaterally changed the financial components of the transaction, with which owners do not and will not agree, and that Rain Forest because of that cannot meet its obligations under the agreement, according to the release.
Rain Forest Adventures St. Maarten N.V. and Rain Forest Tram Ltd., which has an agreement to develop a recreational park and chairlift tour at the estate, placed a lien on the property on August 3. The companies claimed that the estate owners had committed themselves to deliver ownership of 75 per cent of the estate and that the companies were entitled to take ownership. The companies also claimed that they were entitled to financial compensation of about US $15.5 million if the deal was to fall through. The Court had limited the attachment for compensation of damages to US $5 million.
No comment on the ruling was received from Rain Forest up to press time.
The Court, in its ruling of September 21, took into consideration that owners are under no obligation to accept the alternative financing of the project, of which the most prominent is that Rain Forest had agreed under the cooperation agreement to bring in equity in the amount of US $6.5 million, whereas from the financing agreement with Carnival it appears that only US $1.78 million will be brought in as equity. Due to this alternative financing, owners would receive far less for the property as had been agreed upon.
According to the Court, owners are under no obligation to transfer ownership now that Rain Forest did not meet all stipulations of the cooperation agreement. Because of the above the alleged claim for performance (i.e. the transfer of ownership) is summarily proven to be unjustified.
Owners also argued that the claim for compensation of damages is unjustified, which argument the Court followed. Rain Forest had argued that it will suffer damages if the project falls through.
As Rain Forest did not present to the court its petition to place the attachments or the petition on the merits of the case, the court considered Rain Forest's claim for compensation of damages insufficiently substantiated. The claim for compensation of damages is therefore summarily proven to be unjustified also.
Under those circumstances, according to the court, owner's interest in lifting the attachment outweighs Rain Forest's interest in performance or compensation of its so far summarily proven unjustified claims.
The Court considered it unlikely that Rain Forest is entitled to performance or compensation of damages and that owners, who want to transfer ownership to government, cannot be expected to wait for the outcome of the proceeding on the merits of the case before they can do so.
(The Daily Herald)