Rainbow Beach Club-owners stage protest at courthouse

POSTED: 01/23/12 6:28 PM

Law suit seeks control over maintenance and security services

Angry Rainbow Beach Club owners let their placards speak their mind. Center in white is American attorney Deborah Hadaway. Milton Pieters photo.

St. Maarten – Home owners at the Rainbow Beach Club staged a protest in front of the courthouse last Friday ahead of a law suit in summary proceedings against the company. The home owners demand the right to appoint their own candidate as manager and to control maintenance and security. Placards expressed their feelings about the perceived “dictatorship” by the Erato-family that owns the complex.
The attorney for the home owners, mr. Jairo Bloem, asked the court to grant his clients – 111 of the 150 owners – the right to decide by ordinary majority about the appointment of a company charged with maintenance and security at the Rainbow Beach Club. Judge mr. Diederik Thierry will issue his ruling in writing on February 3.
The developer of the complex, Sabra N.V. has appointed a manager and the charters of the five Home Owners Associations make it near impossible for owners to dismiss him. They also have no influence on the quality of maintenance and security, because the manager has the authority to deal with contracts for the companies that provide these services.

Maintenance has been outsources to Rainbow Beach Club Ltd. But according to mr. Bloem its services are below par. Bloem’s extensive and detailed plea met with applause from the plaintiffs that packed the courtroom. “I wonder if mr. Kortenoever will get a similar applause,” Judge mr. Diederik Thierry quipped.
mr. Mark Kortenoever, who pleaded for the Rainbow Beach Club said that the plaintiffs cannot represent the Home Owners Associations because they are based on their charter only represented by the manager. “That cannot be set aside just like that, not even with a call on alleged conflicts of interest.”
Kortenoever said that it is not possible for a group of people to ignore the association’s rules and to decide to start a procedure on behalf of it. “I am not able to gather a group of people and send Prime Minister Sarah Wescot home because I disagree with her policy or because I find that I am getting not enough for my tax dollars.”
Kortenoever quotes an article from the civil code that states that a decision by an entity that violates the law or the charter is void. He pointed out that not all owners are involved in the procedure; he mentioned Michel Soons and Prime Distributors manager Deepak Ramchandani as examples of owners that have distanced themselves from the law suit.
Furthermore, Kortenoever said, “civil law is not the same as democracy. “Civil law does not allow for a group of people to decide about commercial rights of others because they have a majority.”
The legal dispute between the Rainbow Beach Club and its owners started in 2008, two years after its completion. Since then many law suits have followed, and some of them are still pending. “Every time there are different plaintiffs and different attorneys; it is not possible to solve this situation in summary proceedings.”
In October of last year, Rainbow Beach Club decided to terminate the maintenance agreements it had with the 150 individual owners with two months notice. “Rainbow serviced the maintenance agreement at a loss and thought that, if the owners think they’re able to do this cheaper or better, they ought to do so. But there are conditions, because the facilities remain Sabra’s property and Sabra must make sure that all owners have well maintained facilities at their disposal,” Kortenoever said. (Sabra is the developer of the Rainbow Beach Club).
Sabra also owns the hotel facilities on the property, the attorney said. The company wants to keep a certain level of control over these facilities and demands compensation for its investment in case the owners want to take them over.
Kortenoever charged that the plaintiffs are using the summary proceedings route to get what they want, “because this is the ultimate way to shoot for a favorable decision with a lot of bluff and twisting of the facts. If it does help, it doesn’t hurt either. But if it works, it’s a party.”
Kortenoever asked Judge mr. Diederik Thierry to reject all demands. The right to appoint a manager for four of the five Home Owner associations is not possible because it violates the association’s charter, he said. The demand to hand over keys to the plaintiffs also met with resistance
The demand to forbid Rainbow Beach Club to perform maintenance on its own property met with disbelief.
“If this is granted, the defendants will file a complaint for theft or embezzlement because all moveable property belongs to the defendants and they do not give permission to the plaintiffs to appropriate them.”

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