21 Oct 2006

Fiji's High Court will hear Suva land claim

8:25 am on 21 October 2006

The Suva High Court has ruled that it has the jurisdiction to hear a land claim brought by the descendants of the original indigenous owners of the capital, Suva.

The state had argued the court did not have this power and asked it to defer the claim for the yet-to-be established Land Claims Tribunal.

But Justice Devendra Pathik ruled the action had been properly filed in the High Court, there was a previous ruling setting a precedent, and it was unthinkable to defer it.

The ruling means the High Court will go ahead and hear the claim which involves more than 250,000 hectares of land on which Suva is built comprising some of the most valuable real estate in the country.

The land was taken from its original owners in 1882 when the British Colonial administration moved the Fiji capital from Levuka to Suva.

The ruling is expected to lead to the filing of similar claims all over Fiji.