Review of decision over land dispute dismissed by court

National, Normal


THE Waigani National Court recently dismissed a judicial review appeal, regarding a land dispute matter.
The land dispute has been in court for the past 10 years.
The plaintiff, Peter Aruaru was aggrieved by a decision of the provincial land court magistrate and appealed to the National Court to review the decision of the land court.
He named magistrates, Bill Noki and Michael Korah as defendants in the proceedings, claiming that Mr Noki had erred in some areas of law when he made the decision.
However, National Court judge Justice George Manuhu found that the matter had came before the National Court for the second time.
He also found that the matter had been through all the process of court for the past 10 years.
The only argument that appeared meritorious was the question of delay.
The applicant argued that the respondent had not prosecuted the review with due diligence.
However, the respondents said they had carefully looked through the issue before making their ruling.
While going through the submissions, the court found that both parties never showed up in court proceedings and the matter had been adjourned several times since last year.
The respondent applied for an interim stay and was granted pending the substantive application on last Dec 9.
The interim stay was in force for almost 10 months and eventually became a substantive stay.
The respondent also filed an application to join a corporate person as party to the proceedings.
However, Justice Manuhu, while handing down his decision, said he could not understand how a corporate person could have an interest in customary land ownership and how it could be joined in a review application when it was not a party in the original proceeding.
He explained that the application to join had only contributed to the delay in getting the matters heard.
The judge was satisfied that the progress of the matter was affected by undue delay as a result of non-appearances, failure to secure hearing dates and therefore, he dismissed the entire matter for want of prosecution and for abuse of process.