A-G moves to strike out $5 million lawsuit

The Office of the Attorney-General has moved to strike out a $5 million lawsuit from the Samoa Solidarity International Group and Feagaimaalii Bruce Utaileuo. 

No date has been set for the strike out motion that is pending in the call over for the next civil mention. 

It is most likely the hearing will be held next year with the Courts case list already schedule up to February 2020. 

That is unless a separate strike out motion from the former Attorney-General, Aumua Ming Leung Wai, in the same matter is jointly heard with the recently-filed motion. 

The Supreme Court had recently ruled out an application from the group to sue the former Head of State, Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi and the Asian Development Bank (A.D.B.) 

The S.S.I.G. took those parties to Court together with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Samoa Land Corporation and the Ministry of the Prime Minister in an effort to reclaim ownership of customary lands. 

Justice Mata Keli Tuatagaloa, in ruling on the exclusion of the former Head of State and A.D.B., said the defendants are covered under Head of State Act 1965 and Diplomatic Privileges and Immunity Act 1978.  

She stressed that dismissing the application is no way infringed upon the plaintiff’s access to a fair trial. 

“The immunity has not been waived by A.D.B. and in relation to the former [Head of State's] immunity under section 5 of Head of State Act 1965 still applies," said Justice Tuatagaloa.   

A motion on security of cost from the five respondents in the civil claim is pending before the Court. 

The lawsuit by S.S.I.G. is questioning the “legality and the constitutionality” of the Land Titles Registration Act 2008.

Another cause of action by the applicants claims that the Government is in violation of Article 102 of the Constitution by implementing, authorising, passing and enforcing Land Titles Registration Act 2008 — which they allege alienates the traditional landowners and removes their legal rights to their customary land.

The claim also rests on an argument that Article 109 of the Constitution was allegedly violated by the respondents in passing a law that allows the alienation of customary land — without satisfying the requirement for a referendum vote — before submitting the said amendment of the Constitution to the Head of State’s signature. 

The applications also claim the Government passed the Land Titles Registration Act 2008 and enforced it for 10 years, thereby allegedly violating Article 2, which states that the Constitution shall be the supreme law of Samoa and also the Government violated Article 14 pertaining to rights relating to property.  

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