In a recent decision, the Dutch Supreme Court has reaffirmed the so-called principle of concordance between the law systems of the Netherlands and Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten. The principle of concordance entails that the countries that form part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, which each have their own legislative authority, should strive to have their civil and criminal law be as similar as possible. The political relations between the countries were changed significantly in 2010, resulting in a looser connection between the constituents. This looser connection has no impact on the principle of concordance.

In the decision of the Supreme Court (the original Dutch text of which can be found here), the court finds that a law that is enacted in the Netherlands can be applied in Aruba, even though Aruban law at the time did not have a similar version (yet a similar bill had been proposed in Aruba). According to the Supreme Court, such anticipatory application is in accordance with the principle of concordance, taking into consideration that obviously the general consensus in Aruba about the desirability of the rule in question did not differ from the one in the Netherlands. The decision firmly establishes the importance of Dutch law for Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten and vice versa.

Although the relationship between the Netherlands and the former Netherlands Antilles (Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten) as far as the legal systems of these countries is concerned differs from the relationship between for example England and its blue water jurisdictions, their legal systems are very similar. This applies both to material as well as procedural rules. Moreover, the highest instance for cases from the Dutch Caribbean countries is the Supreme Court in The Hague. Case law relating to Dutch law is also relevant for Dutch Caribbean law and vice versa. In fact, many groundbreaking Supreme Court decisions that are relevant for Dutch civil law concern Dutch Caribbean cases.

NautaDutilh's Dutch Caribbean Desk advises clients about international transactions involving Dutch Caribbean law and frequently litigates before the Dutch Caribbean courts and arbitral tribunals. Its Supreme Court Litigation department has dealt with several Caribbean cases. Lawyers from NautaDutilh's European and North-American offices regularly give presentations on Dutch Caribbean law. 

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