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Six draft ordinances related to St. Maarten's Civil Code ready for approval


PHILIPSBURG–Six draft national ordinances related to the revised Civil Code were reviewed by the Central Committee of Parliament Tuesday and have been forwarded for approval in a plenary session of Parliament in the near future.

The draft ordinances have been pending since the days of the Netherlands Antilles and were taken over for completion by Parliament when St. Maarten became a country almost three years ago. A number of hearings were conducted by Parliament with related stakeholders and groups on the drafts.

The information gathered from the hearings resulted in no change to the draft, Justice Minister Dennis Richardson told Members of Parliament (MPs) Tuesday. Recommendations from the hearings could be taken into account for future implementation, he said.

The minister was accompanied to Parliament by Professor Jan de Boer, who was instrumental in the revision of the Civil Code. The professor briefly outlined to MPs the six draft ordinances dealing with inheritance and legacies, revision Common Law marriage, rent/leasing, provisions for the sale of property and assets, acceptance/contracting of work and the reporting of child abuse among other issues.

MP Leroy de Weever has requested that the ordinance regulating inheritance and legacies, when approved in a plenary session, come into effect with a delay of one year. This is to allow notaries to get acquainted with the new procedures.

The draft ordinance on inheritance and legacies will exempt gifts and inheritances a spouse received before or during a marriage from the community of goods. At present, all gifts and inheritances of both spouses are subject to division in the marital estate in the case of a divorce.

De Weever enquired about the application of that ordinance in Curaçao, where it has been in force for the past year and a half. De Boer said no issue had been encountered, but that notaries received training to be able to best use and apply the ordinance. The course, the professor said, was costly.

The MP said the year delay in the implementation of the law would allow the small number of notaries and candidate notaries to follow a similar course.

Under the revised Civil Code, a division of common property will be determined as of the date a writ for divorce is filed and not from the date the divorce is registered at the Civil Registry as is now the case. This new procedure will protect spouses from sharing debts acquired by the other spouse during the divorce process.

The draft ordinance related to property rental will put a ceiling of NAf. 200,000 on properties for which the rent commission can determine the rent amount. Also, a decision for eviction from the rent commission will become possible – a change from the need for a court verdict at present.

Other MPs also raised points about the draft ordinances and received information from the professor and justice minister on their specific points.

Source: The Daily Herald, St. Maarten

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