23 Jan 2019

Samoan MPs to consider sweeping Land Court change

10:14 am on 23 January 2019

A bill to be tabled in the Samoa Parliament proposes a shake up of Land and Titles Court with the creation of three tiers within the body.

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Photo: RNZI / Autagavaia Tipi Autagavaia

Under the proposed bill it will become the Court of First Instance, Court of First Appeal and Court of Final Appeal.

While this will give petitioners a further avenue of appeal, it will also keep all appeals within the Land and Titles court, with no possibility of a judicial review in the Supreme Court as is the current practice.

The Land and Titles Bill seeks to repeal the Land and Titles Act 1981, according to the explanatory memorandum posted on the Parliament Web Site.

The memorandum says the Legislative Assembly had passed a resolution to establish a Special Inquiry Committee to consider the rules and procedures of the Lands and Titles Court and to make recommendations to improve it, particularly in terms of transparency and accountability.

It also charged that the process be designed to discourage the adjournment of cases and to establish guidelines and transparent processes to appoint Lands and Titles Court judges for periodic terms.

The Land and Titles Court Bill is a long and detailed bill that will change the way grievances brought to the Land and Titles court, regarding matai titles and customary lands, are heard.

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