Opinion: A travesty of justice (Lars de Vries’ notary appointment)

POSTED: 06/10/14 11:20 PM

Please allow me some space in your newspaper to comment on a recent article that was written concerning the arguments brought forward by the Minister of Justice, Mr. Dennis Richardson, for not appointing the late Mr. Lars de Vries as the next notary of St. Maarten.

If my understanding of the facts that I have gathered is correct, Mr. De Vries had been working here in St. Maarten since 2008-2009. He had been a candidate-notary in Curacao for around 10-15 years before that. He had applied for the current position that had been left open by the now retired notary Parisius. He was also nominated for the position by the Court of Appeal of St. Maarten and the other islands. In other words a panel of judges found Mr. De Vries to be the most qualified person for the job. He was also working at the office of ex-notary Parisius and by all accounts even had (a lot) more experience than the ex-notary whom he was supposed to have replaced.

I can attest to Mr. De Vries’ legal knowledge as he did some legal work for me in the past, which left me quite impressed. Judging by the reactions of his peers here in St. Maarten, he was also quite esteemed by his colleagues in the legal profession.

After reading the recent reaction published in your newspaper I felt compelled to react to the incredible arguments brought forward by our Minister of Justice for not appointing Mr. De Vries.

In the first place, he mentioned that said nomination is not binding. Even if this is true, how can a minister, who has no legal background (he is not a lawyer) feel that he knows better that a panel of at least 3 experienced judges? This seems to me to be an absurd situation. How can it be possible that a minister can simply say that he feels he knows better than legal professionals, who have a lot better insight into the person’s qualifications than he does? It is incredible that the minister can simply push this nomination aside and can decide on someone’s fate so ‘en passant’.

Secondly he explains that he did not want to appoint Mr. De Vries because there would not be any more vacancies for a very long time and future candidate-notaries from St. Maarten would not have a chance for a very long time. I consider this a non-argument for the following reasons.

You have to be in the notary profession a long time (in Holland on average 10-12 years) before you can even seriously be considered for a notary position. Is the minister trying to have us believe that in a few years, when the newly appointed notary from Aruba has to retire a candidate, born in Sint Maarten, will be sufficiently qualified for this position? Based on what does the minister arrive at such a conclusion? Even if this was the case, it is morally and legally wrong not to appoint someone who is deserving this position right now because of a possible future ‘local candidate’, who is not even in the picture at this moment and for all we know, may not even be in the profession some years down the road, when the position opens back up.

Moreover Mr. De Vries was already working on St. Maarten at the office where the former notary retired. He knew all the clients and would it not be very logical to appoint someone who was already acquainted with the local situation rather than to go and look for a retired notary from another island. It just doesn’t make any sense.

I would like to remind Mr. Richardson that he was born in Aruba. How would he like someone to tell him that he could not become minister in St. Maarten because he was not a “local” (assuming local means born on this island)? How would he have felt as an Antillean when he used to live in Holland if the government there would have told him that even though he was the best qualified person for the position, he would not get it, because there would be (possible) future candidates from Holland for the position he had applied for? This would have been an insult and a slap in the face to him as well.

Is the minister serious with these arguments and can we be taken seriously as a self-governing island when we claim that we can run our government on our own, without discriminating our own citizens? Can we consider an individual who has spent close to 20 years of his adult life in the Dutch Caribbean islands a ‘foreigner’ who should be sidestepped for future “locals,” who are not even near to being qualified, even if they are out there?

The minister should know that he has the power to propose a change to the law to our Parliament, so he could have even added 1 or 2 more positions in the future with the approval of Parliament if there were indeed some qualified ‘locals’ that would have to wait too long.

I cannot help but thinking that a serious wrong was committed by the minister and he should come out and apologize to the people of St. Maarten for not appointing the best man for the job. At the end of the day it is we who suffer for not having the most qualified people in the best positions on this island. Too bad our politicians keep our island from going forward with decisions like this.

I rest my case.

Name withheld upon request.

 

Editor’s note:

In this exceptional case, Today honors the author’s request to withhold his name.

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Comments (1)

 

  1. "deep throat" says:

    The real reason? Like always….just follow the money!
    (Lars de Vries refused to pay a goodwill fee of $200,000 to Parisius)