To eliminate conflict of interests and speed up matters within the Land and Titles Court proceedings, the Accredited Mediators of Samoa Association have now been used as Mediators in there.
This was confirmed by the Ministry of Justice and Courts Administration C.E.O, Papali’i John Taimalelagi, in response to questions from the Samoa Observer.
He said this initiative is strongly supported by the Chief Justice, His Honour Patu Tiava’asu’e Falefatu Sapolu and Minister of Justice, Fa’aolesa Katopau Ainu’u.
“This is a priority due to the fact that the Lands and Titles Court is where Samoa’s most treasured belongings which include lands, chiefly titles are being assessed and handled,” he said.
“The move coincides with the recommendation by Parliament Commission of Inquiry into the Land and Titles Court.
“In response to the recommendations from C.O.I. the Lands and Titles court has opted to let the Mediators take over the mediator’s role that was usually done by the registrars.
“One of the issues highlighted in the Commission of Inquiry’s report is the conflict of interest for the registrar to do the administration work for mediation and at the same time also sit as mediators.
“In our line of work, the complaints are filed with the registrars of the Lands and Titles, and then the registrars also sit in as mediators.
“As of 5 March, 2018, the A.M.S.A. will take over the mediator’s role,” said Papali’i.
President of the A.M.S.A., Leiataua Jerry Brunt, supports the partnership with the Lands and Titles.
“Mediation will be acceptable to parties in L.T.C. disputes because it facilitates and enables parties to resolve their own disputes.
“We (A.M.S.A) are lending support and assistance to the M.J.C.A. via providing trained and accredited mediators to mediate Lands and Titles Court disputes because this will help address concerns raised by the public in relation to the alleged biasness of deputy registrars who have been mediating disputes as A.M.S.A. provides independent mediators who are not part of the ministry.”
According to Leiataua, a sub-committee comprising M.J.C.A. staff and members of A.M.S.A. is currently reviewing certain processes and specific details of this partnership to ensure it is in place before March 2018 - the month earmarked for A.M.S.A. to start mediating L.T.C. matters.
He said this partnership would assist the court in saving cost, time and relationships.
Leiatausa said: “Relationships are critical in our families and salvaging relationships and creating spaces for saving face is the key to rebuilding familial relationships in our culture and society.
“Time is important and mediation aims to resolve disputes in the present when the parties are still alive, avoiding prolonged delays into the future.
“And costs are saved where the parties are able to resolve their differences and disputes once the matter is referred to mediation instead of prolonged delays awaiting hearing date and for the hearing to occur before L.T.C.”
Leiataua told the Samoa Observer that A.M.S.A. believes mediation will be acceptable to parties in L.T.C. disputes because it not only facilitates and enables parties to resolve their own disputes.
“Also it also saves them time and costs that would have otherwise been spent on litigation and most importantly it provides opportunities for salvaging and rebuilding relationships among families that have been in dispute for years,” he said.
As reported earlier, in 2016, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi ordered a Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry into the Lands and Titles because of knurled complaints.
The Commission of Inquiry report indicated complaints from the general public and many questions about the backlog of Land and Titles Court.
More than 200 people made submissions to the Inquiry.