Commission to seek public view on 1965 law

The Samoa Law Reform Commission will hold public consultations to review a law called the Judgment Summonses Act 1965, which was enacted by the Parliament three years after Samoa gained independence.

The Commission advised the public of its intention in a recent public notice signed by its Executive Director, Telei’ai Dr. Lalotoa Mulitalo. 

Members of the public have been asked to submit their views and comments by June 28, 2019 which will then be considered by the Commission and its staff.

“Under the Act, the general rule is that a debtor must not be imprisoned for failing to pay a debt. But how can the creditor get his money back if the debt remains unpaid? 

"The exception to the general rule is provided in the rest of the Act. After court proceedings a debtor is ordered to pay his debt to the creditor. The debtor fails to pay his debt. 

“The creditor seeks for the court order to be enforced, and after opportunities given by the Court to the debtor to pay the debt, failure of which a warrant of committal to imprisonment is to be enforced," stated the Commission public notice. 

The law says if the debtor fails to pay the debt, the creditor seeks the Court Registrar endorsement to enforce the decision of the Court and issue the warrant of committal against the debtor. 

It is the duty of the police to enforce the warrant of committal and the debtor is imprisoned for the length of time ordered by the court.

A discussion paper, which was approved by Cabinet in April this year for the public consultations exercise, seeks public views on those who refuse to pay their debts and whether this law is relevant for modern-day Samoa. 

The paper also asks whether is it appropriate for police officers — who required under the law to assist in the execution of the warrant of committal — and whether this requirement should amended or not.

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