Tonga’s defence against Pacific Games Council lawsuit in process, says government

The Tongan government’s lawyer Dr Rodney Harrison is currently working on a defence against the court case with the Pacific Games Council, the Prime Minister’s spokesperson has said this morning.

Lōpeti Senituli did not give further details about the claim by the Council yesterday that the government did not file its defence in time.

Acting Attorney General ‘Aminiasi Kefu said his “Office is not handling this matter for Government.”
“The Prime Minister’s Office has engaged outside counsel,” he said.

As Kaniva News reported last night the Pacific Games Council’s Chief Executive, Andrew Minogue reportedly said the council would call for a legal judgement to be made in their favour.

The Acting Attorney General said in May the Council and Tonga’s own Olympic body, TASANOC, have sought damages of at least TP$8 over what they say is a “legally binding” contract to host the Games in 2019.

The legal claim against the Tongan Government was made in the Supreme Court on May 15.

The government had 28 days to respond to the writ.

Tonga’s Acting Attorney General Aminiasi Kefu told Kaniva News he received the writ from the Prime Minister’s office on May 22.

Tonga was supposed to host the Games next year, but in a sudden move, Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pōhiva announced the kingdom would not host the region’s main sporting competition.

This was despite previous predictions that Tonga could expect to benefit financially from the Games and the government’s introduction of special faxes to raise funds for the event.

Radio Australia has reported the Pacific Games Council’s Chief Executive, Andrew Minogue as saying the council would call for a legal judgement to be made in their favour.

“We are seeking damages for the losses that we, as the Games Council, have suffered as a result of that unilateral decision with no consultation from the government at the time and TASANOC is seeking the same,” Minogue told Radio New Zealand.

“There are three parts of the damages. The first is unpaid fees that were due to us over that four year period and the cost of finding an alternative host, which was a process that we were forced to go through in the second part of last year.

“Traveling around to the various locations, putting documents together and so forth, were costs we didn’t expect to have to face and also supporting the new host who has to now organise the Games at very short notice.

“The third component to the damages is simply the brand damage with commercial sponsors and partners.

“Tonga’s TASANOC has got some separate claims that have been lodged as part of the joint action.”

Outside the court, the Pōhiva government’s strained relationship with TASANOC has involved the two parties in a long running and very public dispute.

For more information

Legal battle swings in PGC’s favour as Tonga govt fails to lodge defence.

Pacific Games Council launches court action against Tonga

Pacific Games Council and TASANOC suing Tonga government


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