This is not contract law 101

Dear Editor,

Re: Lawyer rejects customary land threat 

All of what the lady lawyer says is true, however, reality is quite different. This is not contract law 101. 

There are a number of issues, which lessors need to carefully consider before they can be confident that the lease is fine. 

For a start, there is inequality of power between the sa’o of an aiga (the lessor) and in many cases the powerful entities (the lessees) which want to lease the customary land.

 It is not unreasonable to assume that a lessee would be backed by powerful and well informed legal attorneys who would draft the lease agreement in ways to benefit the lessee and contain so many loopholes that you can drive a Mack truck through. 

Perhaps these smart Samoans have all heard about the small legalese writings on p.50 of the lease agreement which is easy to overlook and/or difficult to understand but have significant bearing on the lease.

If all lease agreements were of the same standard, easy to read, understand and apply then life would be so rosy and we can be economically better off Ms. Lawyer. 

Contracts and contract law, which is what lease agreements are all about, are difficult to administer. Are you offering free services to the sa’o of my aiga who wants to lease his family land to a bank to set up business there.

You rattle off the list of safeguards under the present constitution but since this government has an absolute majority, it can change the constitution as easily as Stui can change his matai titles. 

In other words, the Constitution does not really offer the assurance that my friends at the makeki and elsewhere are looking for in any changes to the use of customary land.

You quote the example of Fiji but my friends at the makeki can quote many more examples of where the lease of customary land has led to land alienation and poverty - total opposite of what is being proposed.

Sweeping statements are good for a lecture but not useful as a life lesson.


Vai Autu

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