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Tonga's Chief Justice furies over withholding reasons for judgements

Tonga's Lord Chief Justice Paulsen has criticized a magistrate for not providing reasons for his decision in a child support case.

“I have previously commented on the Magistrates’ duty to give reasons for their decisions which is a fundamental requirement of due process,” Lord Chief Justice Paulsen said.

“It is entirely unacceptable that no reasons were given by the Magistrate in this case.

“On rare occasions in contested proceedings the Court may issue orders with reasons to follow, but if this is necessary the reasons must be provided at the first available opportunity.

“In this case over six months have elapsed and that is unacceptable.”

In the original court case, on 25 November 2016, Magistrate Tuita ordered that Mr Wileon Fong of Pili was the father of the child or Ms Pasalona Tui, a single woman residing at Haveluloto in Tongatapu.

He ordered that Fong pay Tui the sum of $150 per week until May 16, 2019 for maintenance of the child named Joshua Yuen Fong of which the said Wileon Fong was the father.

However, both Fong and Tui were dissatisfied with the judgement because no reasons were given for it.

“The parties could be forgiven for regarding with skepticism reasons provided so long after the hearing and in the face of a challenge to the orders made,” Lord Chief Justice Paulsen said.

“I have thought about requiring the Magistrate to provide his reasons, but Counsel are of the view that the better course is that the appeal be allowed and remitted back to be heard again before another Magistrate and I agree.”

He ordered that the orders made by Magistrate Tuita be set aside.

The case was remitted to the Magistrates’ Court for rehearing before another Magistrate.

 Photo: Tonga Supreme court 1  
Source: Kaniva News
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