Land Court rejects plea by Lord Nuku over widow’s appeal

'Oku taupotu 'i lalo ha fakamatala faka-Tonga

The Land Court has rejected a plea by Lord Nuku to have an appeal against a decision dismissed on the grounds that it was out of time.

The case arose from a deferred application for an allotment.

The allotment was originally held by Tevita Tau’akipulu, who died in May 1994 and no one claimed the land within  year.

The estate holder granted Tevita Koli Tau’akipulu’s application on September 2000,  but a request was made to defer and hold the application  with no reason.

Judge Niu said it appeared the Ministry of Lands did not cancel the application, but simply  deferred  it and dealt with it again in 2006 and again 2011, but continued to defer it. The Minister did not cancel or order the cancellation of the application.

Lord Nuku said ‘Ilaisaane Tupou Tau’akipulu only filed her claim, as the widow of her husband, on September 14, 2017.

He said her application should be dismissed because she was out of time.

However, she argued her right to bring this action only accrued to her when she lodged her claim for the allotment as her husband’s widow on 28 March 2017 with the Minister of Lands. She said she  was  well  within  the  10 years provided in s.170 to bring this  claim.

Judge L.M.Niu said he could not be sure from the evidence and statements provided in court whether the appeal was made out of time.

“I am therefore not in a position to say that the plaintiff’s claim is so hopeless that it  cannot possibly succeed, upon the ground that it is time-barred under  Section 170  of the Land Act,” he said.

“These are matters that can only be decided upon the trial of the issues in this case.”

Lord Nuku’s application was dismissed with costs.

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