13th February 2016 The Attorney General’s Office wishes to clarify for the public the Supreme Court decision of 2 February 2017, regarding the civil case between Lord Lasike and the Government of the Kingdom of Tonga.
The Supreme Court had decided to refuse to make a declaration that the Crown had acted unlawfully and in breach of the Constitution in removing Lord Lasike as Speaker and a member of the Legislative Assembly, after he was convicted on 9 July 2012 in the Supreme Court for the criminal offence of possession of ammunition without a license.
The Supreme Court however declared that Lord Lasike was entitled to his remuneration as Speaker and a member of the Legislative Assembly from 9 July 2012 until his term expired on 24 November 2014.
Lord Lasike had applied to the Supreme Court to make four declarations to declare the following.
That his removal as Speaker and as a member of the Legislative Assembly was unlawful and in breach of the Constitution;
That he did not resign nor was he dismissed after impeachment as a member of the Legislative Assembly;
That he remained a member of the Legislative Assembly from 9 July 2012 until the end of his term on 24 November 2014; pea
That he is entitled to receive payment of his remuneration from 9 July 2012 until 24 November 2014, along with interest.
The Supreme Court did not grant the first three declarations that Lord Lasike applied for.
The Supreme Court held that the removal and replacement of Lord Lasike in the Legislative Assembly was not unlawful simply because his conviction was subsequently quashed.
This was because Court orders must be treated as valid and may be acted upon unless and until they are set aside. Therefore acts done in reliance upon a judicial order are protected in law, because they are acts done in the execution of justice which are compulsive.
The Supreme Court also held that once the conviction was quashed Lord Lasike was entitled as far as possible to be restored to all things which by reason of the judgment he had lost.
The Supreme Court held that upon Lord Lasike’s successful appeal he could not be restored to his psotiions in the Legisaltive Assembly but he was entitled to the salary and emoluments attaching to those positions of which he was deprived.
The Supreme Court therefore granted the fourth declaration that Lord Lasike sought, and declared that Lord Lasike was entitled to receive from the Crown his remuneration he would have received as the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly for the period 9 July 2012 to 24 November 2014 in the sum of TOP$223,385.
This amount was already accepted by the Crown to be correct and to be paid to Lord Lasike, and there were offers to Lord Lasike to pay it to him without going to Court, but he did not accept it, and instead he lodged his claims in Court.
Lord Lasike had also applied that a charge of interest be applied on top of the remuneration claims but the Supreme Court refused to grant interest. The Court held that “a declaration is not coercive and does not create a judgment debt under Order 30 Rule 2(1) of the Supreme Court Rules and no justification was advanced for the claim to interest”.
In relation to the legal costs, the Court deferred it to the parties to agree on costs otherwise they would have to apply for costs by filing written submissions within 21 days.
Either party is entitled to lodge an appeal by 16 March 2017.
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For further information or clarification, please contact:
Mr ‘Aminiasi Kefu,
Acting Attorney Genenral and Director of Public Prosecutions,
Attorney General’s Office
Telephone Numbers: (676) 24055/24007 (Office), (676) 25347 (Direct), (676) 7715314 (Mobile)
Facsmile: (676) 24005