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Prominent lawyer wanted

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Tole'afoa Solomona Toa'iloa.A prominent lawyer has left the country after being declared bankrupt, leaving families he represented in Court with debts amounting to thousands of tala.

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Tole’afoa Solomona Toa’iloa was declared bankrupt last year and had apparently left for New Zealand without the knowledge of his clients.

Now, one of the families Tole’afoa represented in Court for a land dispute is being asked to pay up to $50,000 worth of legal fees.

It was not possible to obtain a comment from Tole’afoa.

Questions sent to an email address provided by the Official Assignee, Oloipola Terrence Betham, several weeks ago have not been responded to.

But a family member, who approached the Samoa Observer, on the condition of anonymity, said they are desperate for help.

She said their Court case was unsuccessful.

“We have been asked to pay up otherwise it’s a contempt of Court,” said the woman. “He represented us in Court and when we tried to contact him and look for him we found he had left the country.

“We are extremely disappointed.

This is not right and he has deceived my family.”

During an interview with Oloipola, he said Tole’afoa was in New Zealand and he is out Samoa’s jurisdiction.

“I’ve tried to contact him on email but there has been no response,” said Oloipola. “I’ve also advised the New Zealand High Commission of his status of bankruptcy and there is nothing I can do about it now.

“The current situation as I’ve explained is out of our legal jurisdiction, he left without us knowing.”

According to Oloipola, a person is declared bankrupt when his liabilities exceed his assets. He said the situation means the person doesn’t have money to pay off his creditors.

“The family that has complained (to the Samoa Observer) is just one of the many,” he added.

“It’s a matter between them and their lawyer and I feel for them.

“But the question is where can he get the money to pay them back? They can only get it from Tole’afoa whose liabilities exceed his assets.”

Oloipola said the situation should be a lesson for everyone.

“If you deal with a lawyer, you make sure you deal with a lawyer that is honest,” he said. “Sometimes it’s not your fault they appear to be very honest people but it turns out they are not. Even if he was here, he has no assets.”

Below is the letter from Oloipola to the N.Z. High Commissioner, C.E.O of Ministry of the Prime Minister, Registrar of the Court and copied to Tole’afoa.

 

 

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