Annual report 2018 Court of Justice with the theme Development

The Common Court of Justice of Aruba, Curaçao, Sint Maarten and of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba presented their annual report on Tuesday May 14 th 2019 to the press. This edition of the annual report has the theme: Development.
 
The focus of the Court in 2017 and 2018 was professionalization, quality and customer friendliness with the main theme: House in order. In reality a house is never finished, since there will always be items that still need to be repaired, replaced, modernized and maintained. The Joint Court of Justice is constantly evolving and this is why we chose above mentioned theme.
 
Jurisdiction
Case numbers
The total input of cases in the first instance in 2018 was 37,433. This is a decrease of 14% compared to 2017 where 43,426 cases have been submitted. This decrease is mainly caused by a decrease of 18% in the input of Criminal cases. In 2018 a total of 27,452 criminal cases were submitted while in 2017 the total was 33,609.
In 2018 the output of cases was 37,635 cases. This is a decrease of 11% compared to 2017 in which 41,707 cases were handled with. The decrease is caused by 18% less (27.542 vs. 33.690) criminal law cases. Although there has been a 19% increase in the handling of administrative law.
 
The inflow of appeal cases has an increase of approximately 8% in 2018 (1.258) compared to 2017 (1.162). The increase is mainly in the areas of Civil Law (751 vs. 653) and Criminal law (228 vs. 199). The outflow of appeal cases in 2018 was higher for all jurisdictions. The Court handled 874 cases. In 2017 it was 654 cases. This is an increase of 34%.
 
Publications
Openness of business is important for maintaining citizens' confidence in the judiciary and making (anonymous) decisions public is part of this. The Court makes judgments available for publication on rechtspraak.nl. There is a small increase in the number of publications in 2018: there were 1,805 compared to 1,694 in 2017.
 
High-profile cases
The Court deals with many cases every year. Three cases that have made an impact on the islands in one way or another are highlighted. First of all the suspension of payment of InselAir International B.V.. This case was closely monitored from all islands and countries in the region because it affected the connectivity. Next On the BES islands, an acquittal on Bonaire of a suspect who had performed sexual acts with a woman who at that time was under the influence and in a state of diminishing consciousness, caused the adaptation of an article in the penal law. The last one is the Emerald case in Sint Maarten where incorrect income tax returns and the turnover tax was highlighted. A parliamentarian was convicted among the seven suspects.
 
Judiciary on Sint Eustatius and Saba
Extra attention is paid to the case law on Saba and St. Eustatius. Judge deputy Monique James-Brown and outer clerk Rianna Bennett talk about their work and experiences on Sint Eustatius in a video interview. Former judge deputy Sydney Sorton from Saba also speaks in a video interview and talks about his career on the island. Sint Maarten Vice President, Peter Lemaire, explains the services provided to Saba and Sint Eustatius.
 
Local judges
The Court continues to strive to attract more local judges. In 2018, five judges were in training at the Court. Two of them have successfully completed their training and have been appointed members of the Court. Two of the other three judges in training went to the Netherlands in 2018 for a deepening in the profession at a Dutch court and to follow courses at the Judicature Study Center Foundation, the training institute for the Judiciary and the Public Prosecution Service.
 
Quality
Internally, the Court has continued to work on digitizing and improving the quality of processes. From January 2018, all civil and administrative matters were introduced into the Court's new case registration system. The system offers the possibility to collect better management information and to keep track of financial transactions such as court fees. Since June criminal cases in Sint Maarten have also been entered and processed digitally. The Bonaire site followed in mid-October. Due to the use of digital criminal files, judges have to travel less time to handle a case at another location. This saves the judges time and the Court travel costs.
Working digitally also has the advantage that it is easier to collaborate across branches.
 
Housing
The Court of Justice has four branches, but serves all six islands. In Aruba, the Court has entered into an agreement with the island of Aruba about the use of the court building. This includes the maintenance of the building and the reimbursement thereof.
The Curaçao branch is struggling with structural problems. After thorough investigation, it appeared that a major renovation of the entire building is needed to solve the problems. A basic cost estimate for the renovation was submitted to the Ministry of Justice in 2018.
Improvements have been made to the iconic Courthouse in Sint Maarten and the outbuilding Annex. Both buildings have been damaged by Hurricane Irma. However, more repairs are needed. The building no longer meets the functional requirements of a modern and safe courthouse. The Bonaire branch is still looking for a new location. The Court has two options in mind. The elaboration of the housing options and the final choice will take place in 2019. 
Housing is still a tricky issue on Sint Eustatius and Saba. But that will change soon. At least for Sint Eustatius where the Court, together with the Public Prosecution, will have its own location in the former pharmacy. On Saba, the Court will not have its own building yet, but a counter will be placed in the administrative office. This makes the jurisdiction on both islands more
accessible.
 
Finances
The Court achieved a positive result of f 275,000 in 2018. This result is caused by an incidental income of 689,000 guilders that does not arise from regular business operations. If the result is corrected for these incidental benefits, the Court would have a loss of 414,000 guilders. This loss can be explained because the Court had a cutback in 2018 of approximately 1.3 million guilders. The board has implemented a strict cutback policy on the hiring of external parties and the operating costs to achieve this assignment. That has largely succeeded.

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