New procedural rules make accessible justice through small claims

WILLEMSTAD - Starting from October 1, 2023, there will be a new procedural rule for civil cases in the four first-instance courts of Aruba, Curaçao, BES (Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, and Saba), and Sint Maarten, as well as for appeals at the appellate court. This involves a special small claims procedure, offering a fast and cost-effective process for money claims up to ANG 10,000 ($5,587). This enhances access to justice for citizens. 


The small claims procedure begins with a request from the plaintiff filed with the court registry. The request must adhere to a standardized model provided by the registry. A court fee of ANG 50 ($28) is payable upon filing. For business plaintiffs, this fee is doubled. Unlike other procedures, adhesive stamps are not required. Furthermore, it is not mandatory to hire a lawyer; both individuals and businesses can represent themselves. 


Following the submission of the request, the judge sets a date for the case's hearing. The defendant is then summoned to appear at the hearing by the court registry through a letter or email. There are no costs associated with this summons. The defendant has the option to submit a written defense before the hearing, but it is not obligatory. During the small claims hearing, the judge explores the possibility of reaching an amicable settlement or rendering an immediate decision. If the case proves to be too complex, the judge may refer it to a regular hearing, without additional costs for the parties involved. 


In addition to the small claims procedure, other changes have been incorporated into the procedural rules to enhance and expedite the civil litigation process. The new procedural rules and the model request for small claims are available on the website of the Joint Court of Justice:  

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