The Supreme Court has refused to revoke the authority of Siosaia Pekipaki to administer his mother ‘Ofa Pekipaki ’s estate.

However, Lord Chief Justice Paulsen said he would not make an order on costs because Siosaia had misled the court and had brought the court proceedings on himself.

‘Ofa Pekipaki  died without a will on April 15, 2016 in the United States.

Siosaia Pekipaki was granted letters of administration by the Supreme Court on  November  21, 2016.

Frank Powell, a half-brother of Siosaia from ‘Ofa’s first marriage, applied to revoke the letters of administration on the ground that Siosaia had lied when said he did not have any information about Powell’s whereabouts in the United States and failed to disclose that he had two other half-brothers from ‘Ofa’s first marriage.

‘Ofa and her brother Tevita Moimoi, who has also died, were joint holders  of a registered lease of a property on the corner of Railway Road and Salote Road, Nuku’alofa. The  court was told the lease  expired  in 2070 and was a valuable asset.

Tevita Moimoi  died  in  2015 and no application  was made to administer his estate. His widow, Mele’ana Moimoi, 78, years and is living in the property.

Siosaia argued that on his death Tevita’s interest in the lease passed to ‘Ofa.

At the time  of her death her one asset in Tonga was the  lease.

On  June 21, 2016 Siosaia gave public notice ·in the Talaki Newspaper of his intention to apply for  letters  of administration and for any creditor to give  notice  of  any  claim to him. No creditor made any claim.

Powell launched his application to have Siosaia’s authority to administer the estate. He alleged that Siosai was aware of the existence of the other siblings. Other submissions were made, including one from Mrs. Pahulu-Kuli who claimed Siosaia had lied to fraudulently obtain for himself a greater share of the estate than  he  was  entitled to.

Lord Chief Justice Paulsen said while some doubt had been cast on Siosaia’s trustworthiness , it fell short of establishing an intention to defraud.

However, after careful reflection the judge said he had decided not to revoke his grant to administer the estate.

While Powell said he was concerned with ensuring a fair distribution of the estate,  neither he nor anybody other than Siosaia made any attempt to preserve the lease or to  apply  for  letters  of  administration.

There was a chance the lease would have been cancelled if but for the steps taken  by  Siosaia to preserve it by paying the outstanding rent.

The judge said he was satisfied that the steps taken by Siosaia to administer  the  estate were prudent and appropriate.

“I am also satisfied that Siosaia understands  his obligations  as administrator and has identified those who are entitled to share in the estate, including his half-brothers,” the judge said.

He said suggestions that Powell and Siosaia be appointed joint administrators were not realistic. He had no confidence they could co-operate in the interests of the estate. Any such arrangement would invite further legal action.

The main points

  • The Supreme Court has refused to revoke the authority of Siosaia Pekipaki to administer his mother ‘Ofa Pekipaki ’s estate.
  • However, Lord Chief Justice Paulsen said he would not make an order on costs because Siosaia had misled the court and had brought the court proceedings on himself.
  • The judge said while some doubt had been cast on Siosaia’s trustworthiness , it fell short of establishing an intention to defraud.
  • However, after careful reflection the judge said he had decided not to revoke his grant to administer the estate.

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