Wifol’s court victory over timeshare resort overturned on appeal

POSTED: 11/6/11 2:13 PM

Union’s attorney objects to mistake in verdict

St. Maarten / by Hilbert Haar – The Common Court of Justice voided yesterday a February 8 ruling of the court in First Instance that went in favor of the Wifol-union and against the Simpson Bay Resort Management Company and the Belize-based Royal Resorts Management Company Ltd. Wifol immediately contested the ruling, claiming that the appeals court incorrectly had not taken into account its memorandum in reply. According to Wifol-attorney van Sambeek the ruling’s consequence is that the 182 Wifol-members will lose their job.
In February, Judge mr. D.M. Thierry ruled in summary proceedings that the Simpson Bay Resort management company had to honor the collective labor agreement of all 182 employees of the former Pelican Resort Club. In December of last year Pelican went bust and Belize-based Quantum Investment snapped up the property for a price equal to the resort’s outstanding debt.
After the auction three companies were established: Simpson Bay Resort Holding Company, the Simpson Bay Resort Management Company and the Simpson Bay Resort Owner Company. The Simpson Bay Company Ltd., established in Belize, is the only shareholder of the holding company. Jules James, a Member of Parliament for the United People’s Party, and Royal Resorts are the statutory directors of the three newly established companies.

The February court ruling established that the control over the companies that operated the Pelican Resort club had remained in the same hands after the auction and the establishment of the new companies. “These circumstances justify that the employees do not have to accept damages, but that they are entitled to honoring both collective labor agreements by the Simpson Bay Resort Management Company,” judge Thierry wrote in his ruling.
The Management Company and Royal Resorts appealed the ruling, and the appeals court ruled in their favor yesterday by overturning the February-verdict. However, the court put aside the memorandum in reply the attorney for Wifol, mr. W.A. van Sambeek submitted on April 26.
According to the appeals court, that was too late, because such a memorandum has to be submitted within three weeks after receiving the notification about the appeal.
Yesterday, mr. Van Sambeek wrote a letter to the court in which he contests that the memorandum was submitted too late.
“The consideration is an apparent mistake that is fit for a simple correction. It is immediately clear that this is an error.”
The attorney pointed out to the court that April 22, the deadline for submitting the memorandum, was Good Friday, while the following Monday was Easter Monday. The national ordinance that regulates these terms states clearly that a term ending on “a Saturday, Sunday or a commonly recognized holiday, will be extended until the next day that is not a Saturday, Sunday, or commonly recognized holiday.”
“I request an immediate correction of this apparent mistake in the ruling, or to supplement it.”
As the ruling stands now, the appeals court has established that the Pelican Resort Club Management Company and the Simpson Bay Resort Club Management company did not commit abuse of identity in the transfer of the Pelican resort activities to its new owner.

In February, Judge Thierry ruled that the control over the companies had remained in the same hands and that he considered the Pelican Resort Club Management Company and the Simpson Bay Resort Club Management company as one and the same. “The newly established entities conduct exactly the same activities as the old ones. They operate the Pelican Resort in the same building for the same timeshare owners.”
But the appeals court has not overruled this verdict. “There is no identification in the sense that the Simpson Bay Resort Management Company is held to live up to the labor conditions that have been agreed upon in the collective labor agreement.”

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