Date set for Speaker lawsuit
A date has been set under urgency to hear a civil lawsuit against the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, Leaupepe Toleafoa Fa’afisi.
The hearing for a Declaratory Order claim made by former Salega East Member of Parliament, Olo Fiti Vaai and Urban West M.P., Faumuina Wayne Fong, who are challenging the Speaker’s decision to declare their seats void, will be heard by three Supreme Court Judges on Tuesday, next week.
Lawyer, Muriel Lui, who is representing the former M.Ps confirmed the matter has been set down for hearing on Tuesday next week after call over on Thursday.
When the matter was first called for mention, Ms. Lui sought the Court’s indulgence to deal with the matter urgently before the last Parliament sitting for the year on 15 December 2020.
Acting for the Speaker is lawyer, Luamanuvao Katalaina Sapolu.
During mention earlier this week, Luamanuvao noted the urgency of the matter but also flagged that there will be interlocutory matters that should like to work with the applicants.
In response, Luamanuvao said she appreciates the urgency of the matter.
However, she told the Court that she would like to flag that there will be interlocutory matters that she would like to work with the counsel for the applicants.
The lawsuit was a result of a decision by the former M.Ps to register under F.A.S.T. during nomination in October.
Faumuina entered parliament under the Human Rights Protection Party (H.R.P.P.) in the beginning of this parliamentary term after the 2016 General Election.
He was later booted out of the ruling party and became independent.
Olo on the other contested under the independent flag in 2016.
The members are relying on Article 47 of the Constitution for their legal challenge for the Supreme Court to determine their membership in parliament.
The Clerk of the Legislative Assembly, Tiatia Graeme Tualaulelei had previously argued that the decision to vacate the M.Ps seat was due to their non-compliance with Standing Orders.
The Standing Orders states that any member who ceases to be a member of a party under which he is notified as required by its parliamentary membership shall be recognised as independent member for the rest of the parliamentary term.
In the Electoral Act 2019 section 140, a member elected as an independent Member who takes the oath of allegiance as an independent Member must remain as an independent Member for the Parliamentary term.
The electoral law states that a seat becomes vacant if the member resigns from a political party to join another party during the parliamentary term.