Attorney General’s Office Appeal Judicial Review of a Lands & Titles Court Decision

Court-lawyers
Counsels representing the parties in the case, Fuimaono Sefo Ainuu, Tufuga Fagaloa Tufuga, Leota Tima Leavai, Tafailagi Peniamina and Yonita Tuia.

APIA, SAMOA – 07 AUGUST 2020: The Attorney General’s office is the first appellant in a strike out motion against a judicial review of a Lands and Titles Court decision in a longstanding land dispute at Mulifanua village. The appeal came before the Court of Appeal this week.

The second appellant is Taimalelagi Naotala, Tuputala Naotala and others represented by lawyer Tufuga Fagaloa Tufuga who also applied to have the motion struck out.

The respondent is Moananu Fanolua who moved a motion for a judicial review of the Lands and Titles Court decision was represented by lawyer Leota Tima Leavai.

The Attorney General’s office was represented by Fuimaono Sefo Ainuu and  Tafailagi  Peniamina.

The Case
Central to the matter is the land where Fanolua and family are currently living on at Mulifanua.

Taimalelagi claims the land known as Fogalefuo belongs to his family, but Fanolua claims that the land is known as Faimata not Fogalefuo, and that his family have lived on it for more than 100 years.

The Lands and Titles Court ruled in favour of the Taimalelagi family and ordered the eviction of Fanolua and family from the land.

Fanolua then took further step and asked for a judiciary review of the decision at the Court’s Appellant Division, but was not given a chance to be heard.

Unsatisfied he took it to the Supreme Court and his lawyer Leota Tima Leavai submitted a motion for a judiciary review of the LTC’s decision to the Supreme Court.

The motion for a judiciary review was accepted but the Attorney Generals’ office and Taimalelagi responded with a strike out motion hence the hearing before the Court of Appeal yesterday.

Lawyer-and-clients-in-court
Counsel Tufuga Fagaloa Tufuga briefing members of the Taimalelagi side.

 

Leota argued that the law does not give the Supreme Court jurisdiction to review an LTC’s decision unless it is a breach of fundamental rights under the Constitution

“So our claim is that the LTC’s decision breaches Fanolua’s right to a fair trial. The basis for that is that Fanolua had a survey plan of the land but the LTC’s Court of Appeal did not accept it by not giving my client a chance to be heard,” said Leota.

“They only accepted a plan that was presented by Taimalelagi,”she said.

Leota said it was a breach of her client’s rights to a fair trial and natural justice, hence the matter ending up at the Supreme Court.

The Court of Appeal during deliberation, asked the AG’s counsel that if a solution was being sought, why not go straight to Court to resolve it.

Leota said if the ruling is in her clients favour, then it will be another hearing at the Supreme Court.

The Court of Appeals decisions on this and other matters are being reserved as some of the judges are in New Zealand and the proceedings were conducted on video link.

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