6 Apr 2005

Land compensation payments stopped by Papua New Guinea court

12:01 pm on 6 April 2005

Papua New Guinea's National Court has stopped the payment of 14 land compensation claims from throughout the country and ordered that they be reviewed.

The National newspaper reports that the claims are worth approximately 58 million U.S. dollars.

The National Lands Commissioner had awarded the compensation claims over the years to various individuals and landowners groups purportedly for portions of customary land obtained or used by the State.

But, state lawyers had argued that the claims were unjustified and excessive, and successfully sought an application for a judicial review of the claims.

In granting the order for the review, Justice Cathy Davani noted that the National Lands

Commissioner appeared to have made rulings in the matters without notifying the state and giving it an opportunity to be heard.

Another 10 cases over claims had defects which the judge wanted rectified before they were brought back to court.

A hearing on the 14 claims will be held at a date yet to be set.