Is the Cul de Sac school in danger again?

In 2010 and 2013, the school had already faced demolition due to a legal dispute.

The Cul-de-Sac school was built on the wrong land. Unbelievable, but true. Indeed, the building was enlarged on a private person’s land instead of the land of the Collectivité, or of the commune, since the construction dates back to the year 2000.

This land belonged to Charles and Fabrice Malortigue who went to court in order to get back their property. Although they won twice (including one time in appeals), they were ordered to give up their land to the Collectivité following an expropriation procedure, which they are now challenging before the Saint-Martin Administrative Court. Let’s take a look back at what happened.


Charles and Fabrice Malortigue are two brothers who inherited two mangrove parcels (AV 61 and AV 62) in Cul-de-Sac following the death of their father in the 1980s. They didn’t give any authorization to the commune to proceed with the construction of the school. So, when they noticed the illegal occupation of their property in 2005, they tried to negotiate but were unsuccessful. The following year, they took legal action. The case was referred to the Basse-Terre District Court (TGI).


Four years later, in December 2010, the District Court ruled and sentenced the Collectivité to pay 100,000 euros for damages and especially ordered the school’s demolition. The Collectivité had six months to comply with the decision. If the school was still standing on July 1, 2011, it would have to pay a delay penalty of 500 euros a day. The Collectivité appealed the decision but lost in 2013. It had to pay for damages, the delay fees and demolish the school. A decision that it wasn’t going to comply with.

So, the two brothers referred the matter to the Saint-Martin enforcement judge so that the Appeals Court’s decision would be applied. At that time, the amount for the delay penalties came to 36,500 euros.

Facing the difficulty of razing a school, the Collectivité made a new proposal at the end of 2013: 295,000 euros for the sale of the land covering an area of 5,500 square meters and 105,000 euros for compensation. Plus the 100,000 euros for damages requested by the Court of Appeal. An offer that was again refused by the two brothers. One must not forget that they had already declined an offer from the Collectivité in 2008.

In 2014, the judge in charge of enforcing the Appeals Court’s ruling, reviewed it. Indeed, it considered on the one hand that "it was not conceivable to demolish a school and works of public utility that have no defects and which are not dangerous”. On the other hand that the penalty requested is not in accordance with public interest. Furthermore, he noted that the Collectivité had tried to regularize the situation and the brothers’ refusal to accept these offers. He, therefore, lowered the amount of the periodic penalty and fixed it at one euro a day. In the end, the Collectivité no longer owed 578,000 euros but 600 euros.


In turn, President Aline Hanson initiated a public interest declaration procedure (DUP). In March 2014, the executive council approved the principle of acquiring parcels AV61 and AV62 by expropriation, thereby allowing the Cul de Sac school to stay. A public inquiry was held in accordance with the law and the immediate transfer of the land to the Collectivité was confirmed by a prefectural order on August 27, 2014. And it’s this prefectural order that the two brothers are denouncing. They have therefore referred the matter to the Administrative Court of Saint-Martin to overturn it.



Estelle Gasnet