This article was added by the user . TheWorldNews is not responsible for the content of the platform.

Government terminates Lands & Titles Court President’s Term

By Lagi Keresoma

APIA, SAMOA – 29 OCTOBER 2022: The Government has terminated the term for the President of the Lands and Titles Court, Fepuleai Atila Ropati after the Head of State re-assented the Lands and Titles Court Act 2020.

Talamua understands that Prime Minister, Fiame Naomi Mataafa has informed Fepuleai by letter of Cabinets decision last Thursday that his term ends at the end of October 2022.

Sources said Fepuleai’s response to the letter was that the matter should be decided by the Court.

Talamua sources said the Cabinet decision to end the President’s term was based on the LTC Act 2020 which does not recognise the President and LTC Judges appointments which were made under the LTC Act 1981.

The HRPP Government amended the LTC Act 1981 in the LTC Act 2020 but the Act failed to provide a provision for the appointments of the President and the Judges under the new Act.

This was specifically highlighted in the Supreme Court decision in the case of LTC President Fepuleai Atila Ropati vs Matamua Vasati Pulufana and the Attorney General in April 2022.

Part of the decision reads:

The Minister of Justice & Courts Administration, Matamua Vasati Pulufana was approached for a comment, but said the Prime Minister will make a public announcement on the matter in due course.

The Land and Titles Court matters have been on hold for almost a year as the issue of the appointment of the President and the judges hang in limbo given the uncertainties in the LTC 2020 Act.

The uncertainties have been compounded when the anomalies were exposed following an enquiry by the Attorney General of the differences in the content of the Act that was passed by parliament in December 2020 and the actual Act that was assented by the Head of State.

Talamua sources said that Government is of the view that re-assented version now signed by the Head of State as the version passed by parliament in December 2020, does not cover the appointment of the President and Court Judges who were appointed under the LTC Act 1981.

The President of the Lands and Titles Court is a constitutional appointment.

The current President was found guilty of a criminal charge by the Court of Appeal and announced his resignation shortly after but was later instituted by a majority vote of parliament in 2019 for him to remain as President of the Lands and Titles Court.