Court puts Vorst-ruling on ice

POSTED: 10/8/14 1:35 PM

Family has to wait for decision on appeal

St. Maarten – The government does not have to pay the Vorst-family immediately for the estate in Cay Hill for which Vromi-Minister Maurice Lake signed a purchase agreement for $5.5 million. On August 21, the Court in First Instance ruled in summary proceedings that the Vorst-family had a valid purchase agreement and that the country had to pay $3 million within four days and the remaining $2.5 million according to the contract. The country successfully asked the court to suspend this decision until there is a decision in the regular court proceeding on appeal.

The country’s attorney Richard Gibson Jr. argued that the August-ruling involved the payment of a significant amount of money, “much higher than the economic value of the real estate, while the financial position of the country is not good and the payment would go at the expense of other obligations the country has to live up to.”

The attorney furthermore noted that there is a significant restitution-risk – in case the ruling on appeal goes the other way and the Vorst-family has to pay back – because the family plans to spend the money. “Most of them are living abroad and only one of them holds a regular job in St. Maarten.”

Frederick Esteban Vorst, one of the family-members involved in the deal, has different interests. According to court documents, he is unable to pay the purchase price for a house he bought in Florida if the family does not receive the money from St. Maarten. The college fee for his daughter had to be paid before September 8. “Currently he is forced to lease the house in Florida. He does not have a job and he has been forced to take out loans.”

The son of Inez Margaret Vorst has a study debt that exceeds €83,000 ($105,000) and depends for the completion of his studies on his parents.

Other family members are also unable to meet their obligations if they do not receive their part of the payments from St. Maarten. They are behind with mortgage payments.

The court ruled that St. Maarten justly pointed to the restitution-risk. “The defendants state themselves that they intend to spend the money they will receive from the country immediately.”

The court furthermore ruled that the interests of the Vorst-family members are not related to acute problems. “Insofar they are related to acute problems, they could have been prevented with a more conservative financial planning.”

The study debts and college fee-payments are derived interests. They are not the debts of the family members involved in the land-deal, but of their children.

Taking all interested into account, the court ruled that the Vorst-family has to await the outcome of the appeal in the regular court procedure. Therefore, the court suspended the execution of the August 21 ruling for the duration of the appeal process.

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