Court orders government to pay May Ling Chun lost wages

POSTED: 10/2/12 1:43 PM

St. Maarten – The government has to pay 48,000 guilders ($26,815) to Innovative Marketing Creations N.V. and its director May Ling Chun, Judge mr. Rene van Veen ruled in a lawsuit Chun had initiated against the country after Tourism Minister Romeo Pantophlet ended her contract as interim head of the Tourist Bureau rather unceremoniously per July 1. The judge did not grant the demand to let Chun return to work at the Tourist Bureau.

Pantophlet terminated the contract Chun signed in July 2011 with Tourism Minister Franklin Meyers, based on the argument that the contract was up for renewal every three months. The court found this to be untrue. The contract was extended once in September of last year; On March 1 of this year, Chun received a letter from Minister Meyers that stated: “I am pleased to inform you and confirm your appointment as the first CEO/director of Tourism of the St. Maarten Tourism Authority, once it is established.”

But on June 19 Minister Pantophlet wrote to Chun that her contract would not be renewed and that a new contract will be offered “with a remuneration that is more in line with the gross salaries at the government.”

The contract Chun signed in 2011 gave her 16,000 guilders per month for her work. Chun turned down the proposal on June 25 and two days later Pantophlet repeated that her contract would not be renewed, unless she agreed with the lesser conditions.

The country argued that Pantophlet’s his predecessor was not authorized to sign the contract with Chun. When his predecessor Meyers sign a 3-month contract for 16,000 guilders a month, its value stayed just below the 50,000-guilders limit. Above that limit, ministers are not authorized to sign contracts without putting out a public tender first.

But the court ruled that Chun could rely on the premise that Minister Meyers acted on behalf of the country. That argument became irrelevant anyway, the court ruled, because the Council of Ministers, in its meeting of November 22 of last year, approved Meyers’ proposal to extend Chun’s contract until the independent tourist authority is established. the court furthermore found no proof that the contract was consistently renewed every three months.

The court ruled that a principal is entitled to end a contract at any time, but that is such cases the contractor is entitled to a reasonable part of the income she or he loses because of it. Based on this argument the court ruled that the country has to pay Chun 48,000 guilders as an advance on the wages it owes her for the remainder of the contract.

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