Supreme Court issues interim order in relation to unsworn H.R.P.P. members

The Supreme Court has issued an interim order “that no steps will be taken in relation to the membership” of Human Rights Protection Party's unsworn elected members until it hears an urgent application filed by the party.

The order was handed down by His Honour, Chief Justice Satiu Simativa Perese, prior to the hearing of the declaratory order application filed by H.R.P.P. members against the Speaker of the House, Papali’i Lio Masipau for not allowing the members of the party to be sworn in. 

“I went through the file in relation to this matter and we begin by making orders that no steps will be take in relation to memberships of the [H.R.P.P. elected] members; until further order of the court," said the Chief Justice. 

The matter is being heard before the court on a pickwick basis, given the “urgency and importance” of the matter, said His Honour. 

A pickwick is a practice whereby the respondent to an ex parte application is invited to appear at the hearing without the need to file written submissions. 

Presiding with His Honour on the matter are Supreme Court Justices, Niaava Tuatagaloa Keli and Tologata Leilani Tuala-Warren. 

Counsel Aumua Ming Leung Wai is representing the H.R.P.P. while Leiataualesa Komisi Koria is attending on behalf of the Speaker of the House. 

Aumua submitted in Court that their clients are duly elected members of parliament and are required to represent their constituencies, and due to the fact that they aren't allowed to attend parliament sitting at the moment, they are calling for the Court’s assistance. 

However, Leiataualesa was unaware the matter was being heard on a pickwick basis and asked for time to get instructions from his client, the Speaker of the House. 

The Chief Justice then informed the Speaker’s lawyer that he can make responses as he sees fit. 

“Obviously there is no time for you to file formal written submissions and you should be able to make responses as to Mr Leung Wai’s submissions. 

“We understand the urgency of the situation and the importance constitutionally of this application like before as we dealt with applications on the pickwick basis,” said the Chief Justice. 

Aumua then appealed to the Court to make declaratory orders to declare the actions of the Speaker to be unlawful and unconstitutional. 

“The first issue is was the Speaker's decision to prevent our clients from attending to parliament unlawful and second issue is whether this refusal to swear in our clients as members of parliament, unlawful and unconstitutional,” he said to the court.

Leiataua informed the Court that he will seek instructions from his client and requested for a few hours adjournment. 

The Court adjourned the matter to 2pm this afternoon with His Honour also informing the parties that given the pickwick basis that the matter is being heard under, the Court will issue its ruling today. 

• This is a developing story...

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