Judge cautions lawyer on mediation sessions

Supreme Court Justice Vui Clarence Nelson has cautioned the prosecutor from the Attorney General’s Office, saying discussions held during mediation sessions are strictly confidential. 

Raising his concerns during a Court proceeding—wherein complainant Suitupe Misa filed a $1 million tala lawsuit against the Ministry of Police—he said discussions held during judicial settlement conferences are not admissible in Court and he will not accept it. 

During the proceeding, prosecutor Sefo Ainu’u from the Attorney General’s Office, put it to the complainant that the Commissioner of Police Fuiavaili’ili Egon Keil did not know him.

“Remember when we were in mediation with the Commissioner,” said Ainu’u, which drew an objection from the complainant’s lawyer Seuamuli Sarona Ponifasio.

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Seuamuli then advised the Judge that the mediation was held before a judicial settlement conference which is confidential. 

Justice Vui agreed and told Ainu’u that he will not allow this to continue in his Court.  

“You cannot do that you bring any more than what you already know.” 

But Ainu’u argued that it was relevant to make reference to those discussions due to the issue of “apologies being made”. However, the Judge fired back saying: “Whatever is said during judicial settlement conference is not admissible in court—end of story. Whether it is an apology or not or whatever—it is not admissible in court.”

The Judge noted that if the apology was made outside of judicial settlement conference, then it can be questioned, but not during the mediation period. 

“That is confidential and if we start reeling into the judicial settlement conferences, no one would agree to mediation anymore.”

The parties in the substantive are now awaiting approval from Cabinet on the amount of settlement to pay the complainant.

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