St. Maarten has a civil law system. The main body of civil law is the Civil Code. Nearly all laws and regulations are, to a large extent, based on their equivalent in the Netherlands. However, considering the European legislation being implemented in the laws of the Netherlands, the differences between the laws may become greater.
St. Maarten has a Court of First Instance and a Court of Appeal of Aruba, Curacao, St. Maarten, Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba that is also established in Sint Maarten. The Supreme Court for St. Maarten is the Supreme Court in The Hague (“Hoge Raad”), the Netherlands, which is also the Supreme Court for Aruba, Curacao, the BES islands and the Netherlands itself.
Recently, the St. Maarten Civil Code was amended pending, relating but not limited to the abolition of bearer shares, extension of due dates, simplification of exit procedure and inquiry into company affairs.
As is the case in the Netherlands, the principles of “reasonableness and fairness” (redelijkheid en billijkheid) are an important factor in the civil relations between parties. Contracts can be enforced, either when they are merely oral or when put in writing. The Civil Code offers important protection to relatively vulnerable parties in contractual relations, such as employees in labor law and consumers when buying goods or acquiring services from professional providers.
Taking into account the fact that the island of St. Maarten contains two jurisdictions (legal systems), i.e. a jurisdiction on the Dutch part of the island, as well as a French jurisdiction, question/issues of private international law may arise in connection therewith.