Grand Case Beach Chairs: the Collectivité didn’t defend itself

An account of the reasons why the administrative court canceled the executive council’s decision to prohibit any occupation on the Grand Case beach.

On the day of the hearing, on June 10, 2016, the presiding judge of the administrative court and the rapporteur public didn’t fail to point out to the Collectivité its lack of involvement in the Grand Case beach chair case. ”The case will have a worldwide impact (editor’s note: repeat of the restaurant owners’ remarks), yet the Collectivité has remained silent until today…», stressed the rapporteur public. Indeed, the Collectivité did not provide a statement of case as it should have done according to the administrative legal procedure. Maître Marie-Yvonne Benjamin from the Paris Bar, who defended the Collectivité in another case, explained that she had not been instructed until the night before the hearing.

Voluntary oversight or negligence? Whatever the case may be, the failure to provide a statement of case has today cost her the executive council’s decision of November 17, 2015 according to which "any commercial occupation of the public domain of the Grand Case beach (tables, chairs, beach chairs, sunshades and booths) is prohibited and that no temporary occupation permit of the public domain for commercial purposes on the Grand Case beach will be issued by the Collectivité of Saint Martin.

Indeed, this mistake allows the administrative court to rule in the restaurant owners’ favor - who had seized it to cancel the decision of November 17. Worse, it shows that the silence of the Collectivité is tantamount to saying that it agreed with the restaurant owners’ arguments. "The defendant who, in spite of a formal notice, has not produced before the closure of the trial shall be deemed to have consented to the facts exposed by the applicant in their writings", is written in the judgment. It should be noted that the Collectivité was given formal notice to produce its remarks on March 21, 2016.

Furthermore, the administrative court agreed with the fact that the executive council does not have jurisdiction; no supporting document showing the contrary was provided by the Collectivité. ”The applicants have grounds to maintain that the executive council of Saint-Martin - by bringing the case to court - acted unlawfully in an area reserved (by the abovementioned provisions of the code général des collectivités territoriales) in the territorial council of the overseas collectivité of Saint-Martin", according to the court’s judgment.

However, the administrative court says that the Collectivité is not required  "to examine hypothetical intallation permits on this Grand Case beach".


Estelle Gasnet