Curaçao government ignores agreement obligation Oostpunt (east point)
WILLEMSTAD - Willy Maal, owner of East Point, is considering, on top of the previously promised 66 million guilders, to demand compensation from the government for non-performance.
“The country has systematically ignored its obligations to what has been agreed after years of negotiations about the destination of Maal’s properties. This is not only indecent, but it makes the country liable for compensations,” says HBN Law attorney Robert Blaauw of his client in a letter to the government.
The letter was sent to the government on October 20 this year with the title: 'Lack of diligence Country Curaçao on East Point.
Blaauw gives a "fact enumeration" of the protracted legal battle between the Maal family against the government to develop East Point and the outcome of the negotiations.
“The Island Territory of Curaçao (predecessor of the Country Curaçao) was ordered by a judgment of June 7, 1999 to pay compensation to Maal of 20 million guilders, plus legal interest starting December 5, 1995. This claim stands now at 56.5 million.”
“The conviction was the basis not fulfilling commitments to Maal. In determining the amount of damages the court assumed that Maal might also develop 40 to 50 percent of East Point. After this verdict and after Maal had submitted a plan for damages of 66 million, the property owner and the Island Territory negotiated for years,” says Blaauw. The lawyer refers to the resultant "Settlement" of August 25, 2010, which, according to Blaauw, ‘through zoning change, development Eastpoint, as required by Maal, was the starting point and formulated as the requirement of the government.
In the Settlement Agreement that was never officially made public, the government states that “with the utmost vigor the zoning change of the Island Development Plan, EOP will be continued.”
Blaauw: “Then finally there is in July 2014 a Decision Document,” in which the Minister of Traffic, Transport and Spatial Planning (VVRP) explains his desired adjustments to the previously laid-open draft Ordinance and Explanatory Memorandum, for the first time submitted to the Cabinet.
After that, the government requested advice on the draft Ordinance and the Explanatory Memorandum. This advice was received in August 2014, it was adjusted based on this advice. The Cabinet then approved the modified draft Ordinance revision destinations East Point including Explanatory Notes and the Decision Document.
Blaauw further explains that the documents the documents were submitted to the Social and Economic Council (SER) with a request for advice and for preparation to the Advisory Council (RvA).” The government did not ask the SER for urgent advice, given their obligation. SER took ten months to give their advice. It was received in early June 2015.
Additional causes of the absurdly long duration of the SER report lay in the fact that the Ministry of VVRP did respond or was slow to respond to questions from the SER for further information. It also appears that the questions from the RvA were not or wrongly answered.
A total there are eight court cases conducted by foundations / organizations and individuals, against the proposed zoning changes of the lands of East Point. Repeatedly the principle of equality was underlined, which the parties were left wondering whether one has equal access to relevant information / documents and processes.
From the foregoing discussion of Maal’s legal representation, it proves at least that Blaauw has access to the course of the advices requested by the government, the aforementioned independent advisory councils SER and RvA. For example, the SER's role is to serve the government of the island with advice on all major issues of socioeconomic nature. This is to implement changes in socioeconomic impact, which the government has a legal obligation to seek the SER's advice.
The RvA has, as the highest independent adviser to the Government on matters of legislation and administration, an important role in the proper functioning of democracy. That is the explanation on the RvA website.
In the letter the government is requested to inform Maal in writing about the progress of the project. "Is there now or not an urgent advice requested to the RvA? If so, when? If not why not? Maal would welcome an answer within a week.
If the country, some ministries, continue to frustrate this utmost vigor project by ignoring the agreements, then there remains no choice for Maal to take steps to recover damages for breach of contract. “The damages will not be limited to the promised amount of 66 million guilders,” says Blaauw.