ʻAkilisi Pōhiva pays TP$22,000 legal costs before election deadline

Tonga’s Democratic Leader ʻAkilisi Pōhiva has cleared his way to Parliament before the November general election after he paid his TP$22,000 legal costs,  ordered by the Supreme Court in Nukuʻalofa,  yesterday.

The payment was confirmed today by the Registrar Office at the Supreme Court.

Minister of Justice, Hon Clive Edwards said: “‘Akilisi paid the full cost ordered by Salesi Mafi to the Supreme Court on Monday, 20th October 2014 to await the hearing of his application on the 7th November 2014.

“‘Akilisi has an application for Judicial Review on the decision of the Magistrate, Salesi Mafi, which requires leave to be granted. ‘Akilisi will need to have that argued before the Supreme Court to determine whether he is entitled to review the decision of Salesi Mafi or not.

“Because his application does not stay or overrule the order of Salesi Mafi, he applied to the Court for an order to stay (stop) the order from taking effect because it would bar him from running in the forthcoming election. The argument in support of his application turned on whether he should be treated differently from everybody else”.

Chief Justice Michael Scott ordered Pōhiva to pay the money no later than today October 21 after Pōhiva appealed Police Magistrate Sālesi Mafi’s decision ordering him to pay legal costs for three legal counsels.

The legal counsels were Tonga’s Minister of Justice Hon. Clive Edwards, Legal Counsel William Clive Edwards Jr and Legal Counsel Stephen Stanton. The trio represented four respondents namely Tonga’s Prime Minister Lord Tu’ivakano, Princess Pilolevu Tuita, Hon Clive Edwards and the Friendly Islands Sattelite Company after Pōhiva took them to court  but eventually lost his claims.

The Tongan consitution stipulates that a candidate for Parliamentary elections has to get a written clearance from the Supreme Court and Magistrates Court showing he or she has no record of outstanding order before he or she can register to become a candidate.

Pōhiva said he settled the full amount of the legal costs today while he and his legal counsel appeal the Supreme Court decision in the Court of Appeal.

“I have to pay the amount of TP$22,000 so that I will still be eligible to become a candidate in the November election. If the court of appeal rules in favour of my submission the respondents’ legal counsels have to pay back my money,” Pōhiva said.

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