New Zealand barrister Dr Rodney Harrison QC will no longer represent the PSA and its head Mele ‘Amanaki in its legal battle with Tongasat.
Dr Harrison withdrew his services over what ‘Amanaki has described as “a minor dispute.”
Kaniva news has learned the dispute arose after ‘Amanaki questioned Dr Harrison over lawyer Laki Niu’s legal fees.
As Kaniva news reported earlier, the plaintiffs owed TP$7,025.55 to lawyer Niu as legal fees.
The fees stemmed from court cases in 2014 and 2015 in which Niu acted for the PSA.
‘Amanaki told us in an interview in June the PSA had planned to ask Dr Harrison to include Niu’s and PSA’s costs when he negotiated his legal fees with the defendants. The defendants paid Dr Harrison in 2016.
‘Amanaki claimed Niu submitted his invoice late in 2017, by which time the defendants had paid Dr Harrison’s fees, which did not include Niu and PSA’s costs.
Kaniva news understands ‘Amanaki continued to argue with Dr Harrison over the issue, which caused him to pull out.
Dr Harrison will still represent Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pōhiva in an upcoming appeal case lodged by Tongasat.
It is understood he will also represent former Kele’a newspaper editor Māteni Tapueluelu and former Kele’a publisher Lautala Tapueluelu and two staff from Kele’a newspaper in a related matter.
As Kaniva news reported recently, the Supreme Court ruled in favour of Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pōhiva and the Public Service Association (PSA) which had fought a five year battle against Tongasat over what it claimed were illegal payments of TP$90 million to the company.
The lawyer for the plaintiffs was Dr Harrison.
‘Amanaki said on Facebook last week that Dr Harrison no longer represented her and the Public Service Association:
“Over a minor dispute between Dr. Harrison and the PSA in the last three weeks in the process to recover our costs & disbursement for CV64 (after Tongasat withdrew its charges against PSA & Kele’a staff in 2016), Dr. Harrison informed us last Tuesday that he will no longer represent PSA in CV49 (a legal proceeding against PSA by Tu’ivakano & Clive Edwards).
“As CV49 was called again in the Supreme Court last Friday, the PSA advised the Supreme Court of the termination of all the services by Dr. Harrison in all our legal proceedings (CV48, CV49 & CV64).
“The PSA is grateful and appreciate Dr. Harrison’s services since 2014 until last Friday.”
Tongasat lodged an appeal with the Court of Appeal last Wednesday (October 16) on the Supreme Court’s decision.
‘Amanaki said she as Secretary General of PSA would represent PSA in court, but a lawyer may be appointed.
The appeal on the Supreme Court’s decision may be heard in the first half of 2019.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pōhiva has told Kaniva news he will find out what happened to the tens of thousands of pa’anga raised by the public in 2014 to help pay for the legal fees of the cases involving him and the PSA against Tongasat.
He said the fundraising was led by the People’s Committee (Komiti ‘A e Kakai) and PSA and the money was deposited into a Trust bank account.
Kaniva news has asked ‘Amanaki for an update on the funds, but she told us to contact the Committee chairman.
The main points
- New Zealand barrister Dr Rodney Harrison QC will no longer represent the PSA and its head Mele ‘Amanaki in its legal battle with Tongasat.
- Dr Harrison withdrew his services over what ‘Amanaki has described as “a minor dispute”.
- Kaniva news has learned the dispute arose after ‘Amanaki questioned Dr Harrison over lawyer Laki Niu’s legal fees.
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