Fuka Kitekei'aho (L), Saia Moehau

Land Court supports claim for TP$10,000 in dispute over transfer of land lease

The land court has found in favour of a plaintiff seeking TP$10,000 in a dispute over a block of land.

Fuka Kitekei’aho granted a registered lease  of  his town allotment at Ma’ufanga to Sosaia Moehau.

A dispute arose concerning the transfer of the lease by Mr Moehau to a third party and the use of the land  for  commercial purposes contrary to  Cabinet’s approval.

At the hearing the Court was asked to determine whether Mr Moehau owed Mr. Kitekei’aho   TP$10,000 he allegedly agreed to pay for the grant of the lease and whether Mr. Kitekei’aho’s action to recover that sum was time barred.

The court case began in August 2016. The statement of claim  alleged that  Mr.  Kitekei’aho had entered into an agreement to grant a 50 year lease of his town allotment toMr. Moehau and that the lease had been approved by Cabinet.

The statement of claim sought  to cancel the  lease  because  of alleged breaches of the  agreement  by  Mr. Moehau, specifically his refusal to pay a balance of TP$10,000  as  agreed  compensation for the lease and in transferring the lease to  a third party  rather  than  using  it  as a residential  property  for himself.

The judge, Mr Justice Paulsen, said the statement of claim did not seek judgment  for the TP$10,000 but all the elements of a cause of action for recovery of that sum were pleaded.

The statement of claim pleaded the agreement between the parties to grant the lease for payment  by  Mr. Moehau of the  sum of T$20,000, that the T$20,000 was payable in two installments, that the second installment was to be paid when Cabinet approved the lease, that Cabinet approved the lease and that in breach of the agreement the second instalment of T$10,000 was not paid.

On June 9, 2017, the Court granted Mr. Kitekei’aho leave to file  an  amended  statement  of  claim.  Mr. Kitekei’aho no longer sought cancellation  of  the  lease  but  an order  for  payment of the  T$10,000  and damages.

In 2006 Mr. Kitekei’aho and Mr. Moehau entered into a verbal agreement pursuant under which Mr. Kitekei’aho agreed to grant Mr. Moehau a 50 year  lease of his town allotment. Mr. Moehau was to pay Mr. Kitekei’aho a sum of money for the lease.The application for the lease was approval by Cabinet in August 2006 and registered in December that year.

Mr. Moehau then almost immediately made an application to transfer the lease to Ms. Noleen Blake. Cabinet gave its approval to  the  transfer of the lease in February 2007. Mr. Kitekei’aho was living in Fiji and did not know that the lease had been registered until 2008.

Mr. Kitekei’aho then demanded Mr. Moehau pay the balance he said was owing for the lease. In January 2012  Mr.  Kitekei’aho wrote to the Minister of Lands asking him to cancel the lease.   In December that year the judge said he found Mr.  Kitekei’aho’s to  be an honest  and credible witness.

He said much of the evidence put forward on Mr. Moehau’s behalf was implausible. He rejected claims that the money owed to Mr. Kitekei’aho had been paid in three instalments, including a lump sum in US dollars.

Mr Justice Paulsen found in favour of Mr. Kitekei’aho against Mr . Moehau for TP$10,000.

The judge said Mr Kitekei’aho was also entitled to costs.

The main points

  • The land court has found in favour of a plaintiff seeking TP$10,000 in a dispute over a block of land.
  • Fuka Kitekei’aho granted a registered lease  of  his town allotment at Ma’ufanga to Sosaia Moehau.
  • A disputes arose concerning the transfer  of the lease by Mr Moehau to a third party and the use of the land  for  commercial purposes contrary to  Cabinet’s
  • At the hearing the Court  was asked  to  determine  whether Mr  Moehau   owed Mr.  Kit ekei’aho   TP$10,000 he allegedly agreed to pay for the grant of the lease

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