6 Apr 2005

PNG Lands Commissioner expects land compensation rulings to be thrown out

7:49 pm on 6 April 2005

Papua New Guinea's National Lands Commissioner, Micah Pitpit, says he expects some of the land compensation claims due to be reviewed will be thrown out.

The National Court has stopped the payment of 14 land claims throughout PNG, reportedly worth 58 million US dollars, and ordered that they be reviewed.

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

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

Mr Pitpit says the former Commissioner made rulings in the matters without notifying the state...

"I think they can throw them out on those grounds that they're using. Then eventually they'll be referred back to be tried again by the Commission. But the grounds that they're using are quite substantial grounds. In most of these cases, the state was not present, and also the fact that most of these claims were excessive."

Micah Pitpit says the commission will resume hearing land compensation claims when a review into the excessive claims, and a review into the Land Registration Act itself, are complete.