Aruba forms part of the Dutch Kingdom and as such is also an associated territory of the European Union. This offers many advantages in terms of guarantees as to democracy, good governance, political stability, rule of law; the independence of the judiciary and protection of human rights. These circumstances provide assurance and peace of mind for foreign investors as well as local entrepreneurs and citizens. Aruba used to form part of the federation of six islands (Aruba, Curacao, Bonaire, St Martin, St. Eustatius & Saba) known as the Netherlands Antilles.
In 1986 Aruba exited the Netherlands Antilles by acquiring a separate status (Status Aparte) and becoming an autonomous country within the Dutch Kingdom, which as of that moment consisted of The Netherlands, The Netherlands Antilles and Aruba. Aruba has its own internal self-government, which is based on a parliamentary system, although the Kingdom government and the European Union guarantee good governance as well as rule of law and protection of fundamental human rights and liberties.
In October 2010, the islands of Curacao and St Martin followed Aruba’s example and also acquired a Status Aparte by becoming autonomous countries within the Dutch Kingdom. While the islands of Bonaire, St.Eustatius and Saba (the BES-islands) opted to become Dutch municipalities.
As a result of the constitutional changes, there are now four jurisdictions in the Caribbean part of the Dutch Kingdom: Aruba, Curacao, St. Martin and The BES islands. The lawyers in our office are admitted to practice in all these four jurisdictions.
Aruba’s legal system, like the Dutch system is a Roman law origin, Napoleonic code based system. Therefore, Aruban law is similar to Dutch law in many respects. The civil code and code of civil procedure, for example, are highly similar to the Dutch codes.
The judiciary is organized as follows:
There is a Court of First Instance in Aruba (as well as in Curacao, St Martin & the BES islands). There is a Joint Appeals Court for Aruba, Curacao, St Martin and the BES-islands. This court holds hearings in Aruba every month. The court of last resort in civil and criminal law cases is the Supreme Court of the Netherlands in The Hague. There are different divisions of the court of first instance in Aruba (as well as in Curacao, St Martin & the BES islands) and in the Joint Appeals Court, for civil, criminal and administrative law cases. The Joint Appeals Court also has a division that specifically handles tax cases.
Aruba’s economy is based on tourism, oil transshipment, trade and financial services. The Aruban government is working on enhancing the relationship with the Netherlands and the European Union in order to make better use of opportunities using Aruba as a haven for businesses from the Netherlands and the European Union that are active in this hemisphere. Aruba has a first class infrastructure, a highly educated population, and many professional firms in the banking, accounting, in the financial and legal field. Furthermore, Aruba has excellent connections by air to North and South America as well as Europe.