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Hundreds of land cases in justice backlog

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Shadow Minister for the Ministry of Justice Courts and Administration Papali’i Lio Taeu Masipau says there are more than 500 cases waiting for a decision at the Land and Titles Court.

He is calling for the ministry to hire more Land and Titles Court (L.T.C.) judges.

According to the former Police Commissioner and lawyer, this would help minimise the backlog. Papali’i believes the appointment of District Court Judge Fepulea’i Ameperosa Roma some weeks ago is timely.

When Judge Roma was sworn in two months ago, Chief Justice Patu Tiavaesu’e Falefatu Sapolu said he would be spending the first half of his appointment assisting the Land and Titles Court matters.

Papali’i believes Judge Roma’s appointment is very important. Especially since L.T.C. deals with important matters pertaining to Samoan heritage such as its lands, he said.

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“Eighty per cent of lands in Samoa are customary especially the matai titles and that is the importance of the Land and Titles Court.”

Papali’i claims there are “perhaps 500 appeal matters left to be reviewed”.

These matters go back five years, he said. Papali’i also acknowledged the work of President of the Land and Titles Court Tuala Kerslake.

He said Tuala’s selection to the position has brought “huge” changes in the processing of matters that go through the LTC.

He expressed his appreciation for the appointment of Judge Roma to assist the President in the processing of these appeals. But he urges the government, Chief Justice and the Court Commission to appoint more judges to work in the L.T.C. saying this is pivotal to ensuring smoother case management.

Papali’i is also calling for the “same opportunities and priority” given to the Supreme and District Courts for the L.T.C. In comparing the current matters of appeals from the Supreme and District Courts, Papali’i says most cases are a year or two earlier.

Yet matters of appeal in L.T.C. go back five years or more. He prays that with the new appointment of Judge Roma the 500 cases will soon dwindle to a smaller number.

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