Court highlighted the “lack of a specific provisions” under the LTA 2020/CAA 2020


The Supreme Court highlighted the “lack of specific provisions” under two of the three controversial Act that revamps the Judiciary system as a whole, approved under the previous administration.

The Lands and Titles Act 2020 and the Constitutional Amendment Act 2020 does not have a definition for the office of “Judge” in either Act.

This was revealed in the ruling issued today by Chief Justice His Honour Satiu Simativa Perese, Senior Justices Vui Clarence Nelson and Nia’ava Mata Keli-Tuatagaloa; in relation to the application brought on by the President of the LTC, Fepulea’i Atilla Ropati on the Executive has prohibited the Ministry staff from providing administrative support and reminding the Executive of the Principles of Judicial Independence.

The court ruled in favour of the LTC President and ordered to restore the LTC’s operations.

According to the ruling, the LTA 2020 was one of the trilogies of constitutional changes made by the previous Government rung in before the April 2021 General Election.

The other two enactments were the Judicature Act 2020 and the Constitutional Amendment Act 2020.

The Justices noted the LTA 2020 is expressed to be an Act to replace the Lands and Titles Act 1981 and that seems to be its sole purpose.

“The LTA 2020 makes significant changes from the antecedent legislation. “Unlike the earlier iterations, there is no declaration of a Land and Titles Court in the LTA Act 2020 itself, but reference to the Court structure set out in the CAA 2020. Section 2 of the LTA 2020 defines the Court as being established under the Constitution.

“Court means the Lands and Titles First Court, Lands and Titles High Court, Lands and Titles Court of Appeal and Review as the case may be which together collectively form the Courts in Part IX of the Constitution.”

The ruling stated the Lands and Titles First Court means, the Court is established under Article 104A of the Constitution while the Lands and Titles High Court means the Court established under Article 104B of the Constitution.

The court noted three other relevant definitions the President of the Court appointed under Part IX of the Constitution and that the Deputy President and Vice President of the Court are appointed by the Head of State on the advice of the Komisi of the LTC.

The Court noted there is no definition for the Office of the Judge in either LTA 2020 or the CAA 2020 authorising the President to appoint Judges to mediate at judicial settlement conferences.

“Before concluding that under the LTA 2020 Samoan Judges have lost their power to adjudicate, account needs to be made of the passing references which provide that a Judge who acts as a facilitator must not sit as a Judge on any of the same issues.

“It is not necessary for the purpose of this dispute to determine the meaning of Judge under the LTA 2020. “All we note is that the term is not specifically defined in either LTA 2020 or CAA 2020.”

The court needed to consider whether the lack of a specific provision for the appointment of Judges has any impact on the meaning of the LTA 2020.