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Tongan Judiciary farewells Hon. Justice Shuster and welcomes Hon. Justice Cato

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4 May 2012. On the occasion of bidding farewell to Supreme Court Judge, Hon. Justice Robert Shuster who had completed a four-year term of service with the Tongan Judiciary, the Supreme court sat in a special session on May 4, with the Lord Chief Justice, Hon  Michael Dishington-Scott presiding, to commend the Hon. Justice Shuster for his service, and welcome his replacement, the Hon. Justice Cato.

The ceremony was attended by the Minister for Justice and Public Enterprises, Hon. Clive Edwards, the Attorney General, Hon Neil Adsett Acting/Chief Magistrate Salesi Mafi and Magistrates, President of the Tonga Law, Mr Laki Niu and members of the bar.

Judge Shuster completes four-year term.

Judge Shuster is a well-known Judge in Tonga who has served in the Supreme Court since 2008.

"Judge Shuster has made an outstanding contribution to the Tongan Judiciary," said the Chief Justice Scott.

With his extensive experience and background in law, having served in many countries including Canada, Borneo, Sierra Leone and Fiji before coming to Tonga, Mr. Shuster has served as Chief of Police in Alberta, working in Dispute Resolutions for other companies, lecturing at a prominent School of Law in England whilst other time was the lead prosecutor and senior counsel at some northern parts of England and Wales.

According to the Chief Justice, Mr. Shuster was the first judge on behalf of the Commonwealth, to work at the civil-war torn Sierra Leone, and responsible for taking the first steps to restoring law and order in that country. Mr. Shuster has also been played an important role in the prosecuting team in the George Spade fraud case in Fiji.

"In the last 12 months, Justice Shuster's unfailing good humour, enthusiasm, hard work, and loyalty had made a huge difference in the Tongan Judiciary. He has shouldered about 60% of the work of the Supreme Court judges as well as acting on the Chief Justice position for eighteen months before the appointment of the Chief Justice in 2010," commended Chief Justice Scott.

He has many notable achievements and was the presiding judge over the Royal Inquiry into the MV Ashika Trial.

"I am relatively tough - I am firm but fair [judge]." said Mr. Shuster in a very heartfelt farewell, as he thanked all the legal professions and people of Tonga for their time spent serving the Kingdom.

The Hon. Justice Shuster and his wife Althea will depart Tonga in a week from Saturday, although his contract concludes on 7 May, 2012.

New Supreme Court Judge, New Zealander Hon. Justice Cato

Words of encouragement and welcome were also being extended to the new Supreme Court Judge, Hon. Justice Charles Cato, by the Attorney General, Mr. Neil Adsett on behalf of the His Majesty's Government and by the President of the Tonga Law Society, Mr. Laki Niu.

"Judge Shuster's replacement is an eminently qualified member of the bar", recommended Mr.  Adsett.

‘With the new judges, there is a real people's court', he said.

Mr. Charles Cato was admitted to the New Zealand Bar as Supreme Court Judge since 1973, after completing a LLB (Hons) from the University of Auckland and a Bachelor of Criminal Law from Oxford University.  For many years, Mr. Cato have lectured at Auckland University on civil procedure, evidence and civil law, before making a distinguished career as a Public Prosecutor in the New Zealand Bar since 1980s until 1996. He has also authored numerous publications on topics of strict liability, criminal litigation and liabilities.

Justice Cato was sworn in as the second Supreme Court Judge on May 3,

Supreme Court Judges

The recruitment of judges overseas is part of an international service, with each judge serving a 2-year term of contract. The Judiciary is headed by the Lord Chief Justice, Hon. Justice Michael Dishington Scott, and Tonga's Court Systems and judges are appointed by the Monarch.

For many years, other Justice Shuster is one of the most prominent Supreme Court Judges who made their mark in Tonga including Judge Andrew, Judge Ford, Judge Webster and Judge Gordon Ward who were among the remarkable predecessors of Judges serving in the Tongan Judiciary.

>>> View VIDEO HERE (Lord Chief Justice Scott Farewell Hon. Judge Shuster and welcoming Hon. Judge Cato)


Issued by the: Ministry of Information and Communications, Nuku'alofa, 2012.

Last Updated ( Friday, 11 May 2012 15:42 )  

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