A FAMILY feud over an oil palm block in Talesia, West New Britain province, has finally been settled by the National Court which awarded ownership to the step-daughter of the original owner.
The court sitting in Kimbe ruled that Cathy Mas was the rightful and registered owner of the block of leased land, Portion 928, Milinch Megigi, Fourmil Talasea because the step-brother had failed to convince Justice David Cannings that the title had been obtained by fraud.
Justice Cannings said: “The law is clear that the registered proprietor must be regarded as the owner unless someone proves that the title has been obtained by fraud.”
The judge said it was not the role of the National Court to decide who was morally entitled to the block or who should own the block according to custom.
“It is not customary land. It is alienated government land covered by a State lease.
“The law is clear that the registered proprietor must be regarded as the owner unless someone proves that the title has been obtained by fraud.”
The judge said Joseph Mas, the son of late owner, had gone to court to dispute the ownership of the land by his step-sister Cathy Mas but had not proven beyond reasonable doubt that the lease transfer was “so unsatisfactory, irregular or unlawful as to be tantamount to fraud”.
“No illegality has been proven. It is not even clear that what happened was irregular,” he said.
The court heard that after the father, Mr Olol, died, Cathy’s mother – Joseph’s stepmother – stayed on the block after the death of Mr Olol and that she did not want the block transmitted to Joseph.
“Cathy Mas is and must remain the registered proprietor until she is divested of title under the Land Registration Act or by an order of the National Court or the Supreme Court; and no good case has been made out for such an order being made.”