The Government has extended the contract of the Chief Justice, His Honour Patu Tiava'asu’e Falefatu Sapolu.
This was confirmed by Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi yesterday. He said the decision was based on ‘common sense’ since the Chief Justice has cases he alone needs to deal with.
Asked whether the Chief Justice had reached the mandatory retirement age for Judges, the Prime Minister said a number of factors were taken into consideration before the decision was reached.
“I am the one to answer the question please because the decision was based on my recommendation,” he said.
“Common sense is applied to this matter. The Chief Justice has work that needs to be completed. His rulings should be done by him, not other Judges.”
Speaking during his weekly meeting with the media, he said the decision has also been endorsed by the Head of State, His Highness Tuimalealiifano Vaaletoa Sualauvi II.
“The Head of State has the authority to make the final decision based on my recommendation.”
Tuilaepa explained there are many cases before His Honour Patu that he needs to deal with before he retires.
The Prime Minister said the Chief Justice’s long years of service were taken into account and the fact he has presided over so many cases.
Tuilaepa added that some families with outstanding court decisions had enquired with his Office about the status of their cases. He said he told them to ask the Ministry of Justice.
“I have told them take their dirty laundry to the Ministry of Justice, don’t bring it here.”
He added that despite the public knowing that the Office of the Prime Minister has no control over the affairs of the Ministry of Justice, Tuilaepa said his office is inundated with complaints relating to Court cases.
“I will always take their concerns and complaints and then forward them over to the Judiciary,” he said.
“Sometimes I work as a mailman where I receive complaints and then pass them on to the appropriate authority.”
The Prime Minister did not indicate how long the Chief Justice’s contract was extended for. It was not possible to get a comment from the Chief Justice last night.