15 Aug 2020

Samoa court ruling that took 22 years thrown out

4:02 pm on 15 August 2020

Twenty three years after it went to trial Samoa's Court of Appeal has set aside a ruling by the country's former chief justice.

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Photo: 123RF

In 1997 insurance company NPI was sued by a Samoan business, Vaivaimuli Corporation, contesting insurance coverage for a building wrecked by Cyclone Ofa seven years earlier.

The case, before Samoa's long time chief justice and now retired Patu Tiavasue Falefatu Sapolu, didn't result in a decision until August of last year, several months after the judge had retired, and 22 years after the hearing.

Among other things files had gone missing and the judge had to rely on notes from one of the parties.

Patu ruled in favour of the Vaivaimuli Corporation, awarding them nearly $US91,000.

But the insurance company, NPI, appealed and the Court of Appeal has overturned the Supreme Court decision as unsafe.

It didn't make a ruling for any re-trial.

However it did recommend the government meet both parties' appeal costs.