Court rules Tonga Parliament pay rises unlawful, plaintiff allows to proceed legal actions

The parliament’s decision to grant MPs pay rises which allowed a pay back period of three years from 2018 until 2021 was a breach of the constitution, the Lord Chief Justice Whitten has ruled today.

The decision comes after Member for Tongatapu 4 Mateni Tapueluelu sought leave to apply for judicial review of two resolutions of the Legislative Assembly – 58-A/2018 and 60A/2018 – passed in 2018 and a decision in 2022 to implement those resolutions.

Mr Whitten ruled that Tapueluelu has “established an arguable case that” the House did not comply with its own rule which stipulated that such decisions must be “dealt with as motions”.

As Kaniva News reported previously the House passed the decisions after circulating a circular among its MPs.

However Mr Whitten said previously that “The circulars were neither a motion nor a resolution”.

“The Defendants’ challenge to jurisdiction is refused”, Mr Whitten said today.

“The Plaintiff has leave to proceed.

“The Defendants are to file a Statement of Defence by 22 September 2023.

“The Plaintiff is to file any Statement of Reply by 13 October 2023.

“The matter will be listed for further directions before Tupou J on 20 October 2023 at 9 AM in court 2 or such other date as Her Honour may advise.

The costs of the Defendants’ application shall be costs in the cause”.

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