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LAND AND TITLES COURT

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The Land and Titles Court established under Part IX of the Constitution includes:

  • Land and Titles First Court
  • Land and Titles High Court
  • Land and Titles Court of Appeal and Review.

The Constitution provides that these Courts have special jurisdiction and govern a legal system different and separate from that of the Civil and Criminal Courts. The Land and Titles Courts have special jurisdiction on Samoan customs and usage matters relating to matai titles and customary lands.

Land and Titles Court (LTFC)

The LTFC continues to exercise all the jurisdiction it exercised prior to the Constitutional Amendment Act 2020 (CAA 2020), and Land and Titles Act 2020 (LTA 2020) coming into force. It has original jurisdiction and possesses all the jurisdiction, power and authority necessary to administer the laws under Part IX of the Constitution. In particular, it has jurisdiction:

(a) in relation to all matters relating to Samoan names and titles;

(b) to make orders or declarations in respect of Samoan names and titles;

(c) all claims and disputes between Samoans relating to customary land.

Land and Titles High Court (LTHC)

The LTHC has original, appellate and revisional jurisdiction. The LTHC has jurisdiction to hear any appeals from the LTFC and has all the powers and jurisdiction of the LTFC. However, decisions of the LTHC are subject to further appeal to the Land and Titles Court of Appeal and Review.

Land and Titles Court of Appeal & Review (LTCAR)

The Land and Titles Court of Appeal and Review has original, appellate and revisional jurisdiction. In particular, it has jurisdiction to hear and determine:

  • Appeals from decisions of the Land and Titles High Court on specified grounds set out in section 46 of the Land and Titles Act 2020;
  • Special Appeals from decisions of the LTC made before the commencement of the Land and Titles Act 2020. The provision for Special Appeals is made pursuant to sections 43 and 44 of the Land and Titles Act 2020 which are scheduled to commence on 1 January 2022. Upon commencement of these specific provisions, parties will have 12 months within which they may bring a Special Appeal;
  • Applications for Judicial Review of decisions of the LTFC and LTHC on the common law grounds of judicial review, including procedural impropriety, illegality and irrationality.