Family to appeal Sogi land court decision

By Deidre Tautua-Fanene 15 August 2018, 12:00AM

The family of Nanai Tokuma is appealing the decision by the Supreme Court Justice to dismiss claims that the land at Sogi is their inheritance.

Counsel Unasa Iuni Sapolu, who is representing the Tokuma family, appeared before Chief Justice Patu Tiavasue Falefatu Sapolu yesterday to advise that they are appealing the decision.

“Your honor, this matter was adjourned to today (yesterday) for the appellant to file its motion of appeal and to serve upon my learned friend,” she submitted. 

Sefo Ainuu, counsel representing the Office of the Attorney General, confirmed this to the court and requested for the matter to be adjourned for the next mention date so that the respondent can file a response.

Chief Justice Patu granted the application by the respondent and adjourned the matter to August 27 for the respondent to file and serve a response to the notice of appeal.

Earlier this year, Justice Leiataualesa dismissed claims by the family that the land at Sogi was their inheritance.

The Tokuma family claim that the land was given to them as a gift to Turaroe Tokuma, his wife and their four children by then Commissioner of Crown Estates of Samoa and also Public trustee, Percival Ernest Patrick.

Justice Leiataua said at the conclusion of Liutofagaomataafa Nanai Tokuma’s hearing that he has given no evidence describing the land the plaintiff is claiming, its boundaries or size. The judge said there was no satisfactory evidence offered by the plaintiffs, of where specifically the alleged reclamation was carried out, the size, value or nature of the alleged reclamation, when it was alleged to have been carried out or who specifically carried it out.

“There was also no evidence whatsoever on behalf of the plaintiffs by a surveyor, engineer or valuer identifying the area and location of any alleged reclamation, its value or its condition to support their claim.”

“Similarly, no such evidence was offered by the plaintiffs in terms of any buildings on the land occupied by them or in respect of the alleged clearing of the land, these also suffering from the same evidential deficiencies as the alleged reclamation.”

“Even if I was satisfied that reclamation work or any other improvements had been carried out (which I am not), and that there would be a deprivation to the plaintiffs, the plaintiffs have not excluded any legal basis upon which the defendant could retain the benefit of improvements to their property without paying for them.” 

“As stated at the outset of this judgment, the onus is on the plaintiff to establish its claim on the balance of probabilities and the plaintiffs have failed to establish their claim based on unjust enrichment,” stated Justice Leiataualesa in his ruling.

By Deidre Tautua-Fanene 15 August 2018, 12:00AM
Samoa Observer

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