Members of the Elders Committee quietly awaits the decision at the Supreme Court this afternoon
STORY by Lagi Keresoma/PHOTOS by Aiga Tofilau
APIA, SAMOA: THURSDAY 19 MAY 2016: The Elders Committee and members of the of the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa is rounding off the Church’s annual conference at their Malua headquarters with the happy news that the Court ruled in their favor in a matter brought against them by the former Queensland District Director, Reverend Elder Kerita Reupena.
It was around this time last year the matter was first brought to Court, and Reverend Elder Reupena successfully asked the Court for an interim injunction to stop the church Elders from appointing another person to replace him.
The claim was against the CCCS Elders Committee, Reverend Elder Tautiaga Senara and others and follows the stripping of Reupena’s duties as Director of the Queensland district by the Elders committee.
Chief Justice Patu’s ruling
Before delivering his decision this afternoon, Chief Justice Patū Tiava’asu’e Falefatu Sapolu apologized for the delay in delivering of the decision due to other work commitments and said he had carefully considered and perused all evidence relating to the case and arrived at his ruling that:
- i) All claims by the Plaintiff (Reverend Elder Kerita Reupena) are dismissed;
- ii) The interim injunction that was granted against the first respondent/defendants on the 15 May 2015 is also dismissed;
iii) Counsels to file memorandum as to costs in 14 days, if agreement cannot be reached.
His written judgement will be available to counsels on the 31st May.
The church was represented by 3 lawyers, Semi Leung Wai, Leota Tima Leavai and A New Zealand Queens Counsel. The plaintiff was represented by New Zealand based lawyer Leuluaialii Olinda Woodroffe and Lealiifano Iopu Tanielu.
After the decision was delivered, Semi Leung Wai explained the decision for the Elders and church members in court and he acknowledged the support and trust of the church in their legal team.
Leung Wai said the concern raised by their legal team from the start of the case was the issue of separation of the church decisions from the Court.
He believed that losing the case could have had a huge impact with some members probably leaving the church.
He also said that this matter could be used as a precedent in future matters of a similar nature.
The CCCS outgoing Chairman Reverend Elder Tavita Roma spoke on behalf of the church Committee in acknowledging the service and work by the legal team.
Tolofuaivalelei Falemoe Leiataua, a church deacon represented the church in voicing their appreciation to the legal team.
The church is currently holding her annual general assembly conference at Malua Theological College and a large contingent traveled to Apia to hear the decision delivered.
Several changes had happened within the church since the matter was brought to Court that includes the division of the Queensland District into two districts with the Reverend Elder Reupena leading one of the districts.
Those who walked away from the original district have since formed their own and have been accepted by the church Elders, who will have to appoint an Elder to lead the new district. The future of Elder Reupena shall also be known by the end of the annual conference that will come to a close at the end of this week.