Case of Late CJ’s will before the Appeal Court


The Appellate court has convened this week at the Supreme Court, and one of the first cases heard was filed by Iliganoa Daphne Sapolu, claiming that Chief Justice Satiu Simativa Perese erred in his decision of 14 December 2022. 

The presiding judges are Justice Rhys Harrison, Justice Raynor Ashner and Justice Sir William Young.

Talamua reported the decision dismissing Iliganoa’s claim that her late husband, former Chief Justice Patu Tiavaasue Falefatu Sapolu, did not leave a Will and that the Will presented by his sister Luamanuavao Katalaina Sapolu was a forgery.

Her lawyer Su’a Leone Mailo claimed in court yesterday that His Honour Satiu erred in his findings that the Will was genuine.

“The Will was not complete nor executed or attested to by the two witnesses,” said Su’a.

Iliganoa filed a motion in the Supreme Court regarding her late husband’s alleged Will and the matter was heard in October and November 2022.

After a weeklong trial, Chief Justice Satiu Simativa Perese dismissed the motion and ordered the removal of the caveat against grant of administration of Patu’s estate.

In his ruling, he said “I am of the clear view that Patu had his last Will and testament prepared by his sister as described by Luamanuvao.”

He also pointed out that “Mrs Sapolu claimed that the Will was the product of Luamanuvao and Maka Sapolu’s dishonesty. Mrs Sapolu has not proven her claim.”

During the Appeal, Su’a highlighted evidence presented by their witness at the trial as the focal point of their appeal argument, such as: Patu was asleep on the day Luamanuvao claimed that the Will was signed; the two witnesses who also verified the Will by signing their names on the document claimed that Patu was asleep at the time they signed the Will. Also that Patu never signed the Will. Furthermore, the New Zealand-based forensic handwriting expert Linda Morell said the signature on the Will was forged.

There were several comments made by Su’a that the Court asked her to point out from the transcript, and one such comment was Morell’s actual comment that the signature was “forged”.

According to Justice Rhys Harrison, who led the Court of Appeal panel of Judges, it is a serious allegation, and he wanted to know the whereabouts in the transcript. Does Morell say the signature was a “forgery”.

The only words he could find in the transcript regarding Morell’s response was “indication.” Respondents to the appeal are the Public Trust, the administrator of Patu’s Will, represented by Shane Wulf and  Patu’s nephew Maka Sapolu represented by Unasa Iuni Sapolu and Josephine Sapolu.