Simpson Bay Resort calls on emergency situation

POSTED: 11/30/11 7:13 AM

Uncertainty continues for Wifol-members
St. Maarten – The ousted Wifol-members at the Simpson Bay Resort will go through at least another couple of days of uncertainty after the Common Court of Justice heard the resort’s appeal against last Friday’s ruling that obliged the company to live up to the collective labor agreement for all 182 employees. The resort’s appeal aims to suspend this ruling. The appeals court will possibly pronounce its verdict by the end of this week; if that turns out to be impossible, the ruling will arrive in the course of next week.
The members of the Common Court of Justice – mrs. J. de Boer, J.R. Sijmonsma and presiding judge mr. H.J. van Kooten – conferred with the parties in the dispute via video-conferencing in the downstairs room at the courthouse. The room was filled to capacity with Wifol-members, including President Theophilus Thompson. MP Romain Laville also attended the hearing.
The resort’s attorney, mr. Jairo Bloem, asked the court to deliberate extensively about weighing the interests of both parties. “Executing the November ruling results in an emergency situation for the resort,” he said. mr. Bloem added that the resort paid already $1.3 million to Wifol-members since January and also $700,000 for 43 employees who have not worked since January 26.
The attorney said that the resort has $1 million left of a 43 million credit line and that the monthly operational costs are close to $900,000. “Chances that the resort will be able to obtain new credit under the current circumstances are slim.” mr. Bloem hinted that this could force the resort to cease its services.
“Empty inciting statements like the owners are credit worthy or wealthy, scaremongering and the resort has been bought on the cheap do not contribute to the discussion, but they keep up the smoke screens Wifol has to convince the Court in First Instance and the government of the justice of its cause. Nobody wonders how the resort has to carry this enormous burden and what the possible consequences could be for the 12,500 timeshare owners. The activity at the resort is good for a 1 million turnover for St. Maarten.”
mr. Bloem concluded that the resort should not become the victim of legal mistakes. “The demand for a penalty (of $25,000 per day for non-compliance with the November 25 ruling – ed.) is shameful.”
mr. Maarten Le Poole told the court that the court case goes “over the heads of the people who do not understand this and who live in uncertainty about their position.” He contested mr. Bloem’s position that the November 25 ruling contains legal mistakes. “A possibly debatable judgment is not necessarily a mistake,” he said.
mr. Le Poole said that, after scrutinizing the six legal mistakes the opposing party describes in its petition, “that there are no legal mistakes at all in the November 25 ruling.”
The attorney said that the emergency situation mr. Bloem calls upon “has to be based on circumstances that only became known after the court ruling. Which new circumstances have occurred after November 25? None.”
mr. Le Poole contested the financial information the resort had submitted to the court. “Those figures all stem from the resort, not from approved annual accounts.”
The interest of the Wifol-members in the outcome of the case is crystal clear, mr. Le Poole said. “They have been put on the street from one day to the next without an income.”
He also pointed out that the new owners had bought the resort on the cheap, that Royal Resorts charges an astronomical management fee (“Let them cut down on those costs.”) and that the tenants association has been sidelined. “They have free reign,” Le Poole said.
In conclusion, mr. Le Poole said that the utterly unequal social and financial position of the parties in the conflict “makes that the Judge in First Instance justly let the Wifol-interests prevail. Simpson Bay Resort will not collapse, but the Wifol-members are about to do that.”

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