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Land Court

The Land Court has a broad jurisdiction to hear and determine disputes, claims and questions of title concerning land in the Kingdom (section 149 of the Land Act).

The Judges of the Land Court sit with Assessors whose role it is to assist the Judge with explanations and advice regarding Tongan usages and customs. However, the ruling of the Court is formulated and announced by the Judge alone and the Assessors have no voice in the decisions of the Court (section 146(1) of the Land Act).

Appeals from the Land Court are generally to the Court of Appeal except in cases where the appeal relates to the determination of hereditary estates and titles in which case the appeal is to His Majesty in Privy Council (section 162 of the Land Act).

The Judges of the Land Court are appointed by His Majesty in Privy Council and hold office during His Majesty’s pleasure (section 146 of the Land Act).

The Judges in the Land Court are:

President Owen Godfrey Paulsen;

Justice Charles Bentley Cato; and

Justice Michael Dishington Scott (part time until September 2017).

The Land Court sits primarily at Nuku’alofa but undertakes circuits to the Outer Islands. 

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