Former Head of State and ADB added to SSIG Law Suit

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11 February 2019, Apia Samoa. Two new defendants have been named in the law suit by the Samoa Solidarity International Group SSIG challenging the Lands and Titles Registration Act 2008.

The former Head of State, Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi and the Asian Development Bank have been added, bringing the total number of defendants to 7.

SSIG had originally filed a civil suit against 5 parties being Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, AG Lemalu Hermann Retzlaff, former AG Aumua Ming Leung Wai, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, and Samoa Land Corporation.

In August last year a statement issued by the S.S.I.G. stated that the legal challenge is over the legality and constitutionality of the Land Titles Registration Act (LTRA) 2008.

“The lawsuit is challenging the constitutionality of sections of the LTRA 2008 law, which allows the registration of customary land leases, and which when passed required the registration of all customary lands of Samoa in violation of Articles 102 and 109 of the Samoa Constitution, among others.”

According to Chief Justice Patu Tiavasu’e Falefatu Sapolu the matter was called before him yesterday for the defendants to file responses in respect of the application, following a request by SSIG to amend their statement.

However, Tafailagi Peniamina of the Attorney General’s Office acting for 4 out of 5 listed defendants told the Court that they accept the amendments made to the plaintiff’s statement however, she told the Court two more defendants have been added.

“The plaintiffs have used the amendments to also add in these two defendants,” she said.

She added that the complainants would need to file a separate application in order to add the 2 new defendants.

Chief Justice Patu granted the application by the Attorney General’s office.

“I think Counsel for the AG is right,” Chief Justice Patu told the complainant.

“There should be a motion for the new defendants.:

“The CJ then adjourned the matter to the 25th of February for the applicant to file a motion joining the 6th and 7th respondents as parties to the proceeds.


Deidre Fanene