Church pays Reverend Kerita Reupena $22,000

The Congregational Christian Church of Samoa (CCCS) has paid $22,000 to Reverend Kerita Reupena for costs associated with his legal proceedings in 2017.

The payment was highlighted in the Church's 2018 Financial Year Report, which was presented at last week's general conference at Malua.

Rev. Reupena was stripped of two senior positions in the Church, including the one of director of the Queensland District in Australia.  

He took the matter to Court in 2016 and questioned his removal from the positions by the Church hierarchy but was unsuccessful. A year later he appealed to the Samoa Court of Appeal, which later ruled that the decision of the Church's Elders Committee was unlawful, as he was not given an opportunity to speak in his defence. 

“We find that the Directors Committee did not conduct itself in accordance with the principles of natural justice. It did not afford Rev. Reupena a fair hearing. At the crucial meeting on 11 March 2015 Rev. Reupena was not permitted to speak in his own defence, before the decision to recommend his removal was made. 

“It is true that the Committee followed its usual procedure, but that procedure is quite unsatisfactory and creates an unfairness that is not in our view remedied, by affording the person whose conduct is under consideration an opportunity of speaking only after the decision (to remove) has already been made,” 

“The Chief Justice recorded at [33] of his judgment: “The [appellant] was not present at the time of the discussions and deliberations because he had been excused from the meeting. So he could not have been aware of what was actually discussed in the meeting and the reasons for the decisions”. 

“That, with all due respect to the Committee, was unfair. It may well be, as the Chief Justice found, that the appellant knew what was “the burning issue” but he would have had no idea about the particular allegations being raised at the meeting, which possibly he may have been able to answer," stated the Court of Appeal judgement.

Consequently, the Church decided as per its 2018 Financial Year Report that a payment should be made to the plaintiff in relation to the Court proceedings. Therefore, for the “court cases with Kerita, the Court ordered that we (CCCS) pay to the Court costs to the plaintiff in the amount said below".  

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