Legal Blog

Thursday, June 06, 2013

The Dutch Caribbean and its civil law system

Abstract rules are the starting point

The Kingdom of the Netherlands is composed of four parts: (i) the Kingdom in Europe (popularly known as Holland, north of Belgium and west of Germany) together with Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba (in the Caribbean), (ii) Aruba, (iii) Curaçao and (iv) St. Maarten. Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten  (in the Caribbean Sea, north of Venezuela) are autonomous countries within the Kingdom of the Netherlands: they are autonomous except for matters of defense and foreign affairs. 

Civil law as a legal system is probably best understood in comparison with common law. The main difference that is usually drawn between the two systems is that common law draws abstract rules from specific cases, whereas civil law starts with abstract rules, which judges must then apply to the various cases before them. 

The civil law system is used in Continental European countries such as France, Spain, the Netherlands, Germany and Luxembourg. The Dutch Caribbean also is a civil law jurisdiction and its civil laws are, to a large extent, similar to the laws of the Netherlands. 

However, the Corporate Code of the Curaçao, for instance, differs substantially from Dutch and the Aruban corporate codes. The Supreme Court of the Netherlands (in Dutch: de Hoge Raad der Nederlanden) is the highest court for all four countries. The interpretation of Dutch Caribbean law is based on the wording of the law itself, parliamentary history and judgments of the Supreme Court of the Netherlands (and to some extent of the lower courts in the Kingdom).

Filed under: Commercial by Karel Frielink.



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