Termination of agreements

Termination of agreements illustration
People engage in various agreements daily, from buying bread to ordering gadgets online or refueling at a gas station. Many of these agreements are verbal. Even employment and lease agreements can be entered into verbally. The legislator has made it relatively easy to enter into agreements. However, terminating an existing agreement is a different matter.

The general principle is that the termination of agreements should be done through a 'written statement,' as stipulated in Article 6:267 of the Civil Code of Sint Maarten. Alternatively, the party seeking termination can file a request in court, asking the judge to terminate the agreement.

In many cases involving everyday agreements, the terminated party may accept the termination and return money or goods, even if the termination was verbal. However, for more significant agreements, such as multimillion-dollar construction contracts or real estate transactions, a verbal termination may not be accepted. In such cases, a termination is valid only through a 'written statement' or a court order.

The question often arises regarding whether an email or a WhatsApp message qualifies as a 'written statement.' Legal literature and case law clarify that electronically entered agreements can also be terminated electronically, such as through email. In cases where agreements were initially signed on paper, an email is generally considered sufficient as a 'written statement' according to case law, but it can become a slippery slope, especially if the recipient disputes to have received that email.

While an email containing a termination seems to be accepted, it is advisable to err on the side of caution. Our recommendation is to terminate agreements using a letter delivered in person to the other party, which can additionally be sent via email or WhatsApp. If you are contemplating terminating a significant agreement, especially one of value, feel free to contact us for advice.

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