TONGANS TO CHALLENGE KING’S PROPERTY CLAIM

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Auckland political group undeterred by threats

NUKUALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, Nov. 3, 2010) – Paati Langafonua Tu'uloa Inc. of Tonga is preparing to file legal proceedings in the Tongan courts to determine the nature of the King of Tonga's ownership of the 'Atalanga property in Auckland.

[PIR editor’s note: Paati Langafonua Tu'uloa is a political party also known as the Sustainable Nation Building Party in Tonga, which was established in 2007 in Auckland, New Zealand. In a previous report, the King’s solicitors in Auckland have warned a group challenging the King’s decision to sell the 'Atalanga property in Auckland to back off or face a substantial counter claim of damages.]

Party leader and lawyer Sione T. Fonua told Matangi Tonga Online on November 3, that as of today he had not received any response from the king's solicitor Nicholas K Fisher, of the Fisher and Lamberg firm, to their request for further dialogue.

In a letter to the king's solicitor dated November 1, Sione had "humbly" requested them to withdraw the property and allow an opportunity to meet with their clients in an effort to resolve the matter without having to go to court.

Sione said today, that with no response forthcoming from the king's solicitor, the situation now was to move on to the next step and prepare documents and file proceedings in the Supreme Court of Tonga seeking a declaration pursuant to the constitution declaring whether or not 'Atalanga in Epsom, Auckland, was an inheritance property held by His Majesty for His successors and the Royal Line.

He said that the party met this afternoon and agreed they should proceed to prepare for legal action, "that is unless they withdraw the property from the market."

Sione was confident, "there is evidence that supports our view that the 'Atalanga residence is a government property."

The king's solicitor Nicholas Fisher had previously warned the party in a letter dated October 27 that if they proceeded to interfere with the sale they would face a substantial counter claim for damages.

Disappointed

Mr. Fisher's warning did not go down well with the representatives of the Tongan taxpayers in New Zealand. Earlier today Joel Fotu, a lawyer assisting the people of Tonga in New Zealand, raised the principles of fairness.

"We wish to express our disappointment at the threatening remarks made by Mr. Fisher in his recent reply to Mr. Sione Fonua in relation to the sale of 'Atalanga, which Matangi Tonga Online reported yesterday, stated Joel. With respect, a case has not been made by Mr. Fisher to prove that His Majesty King George V owns 'Atalanga in His personal capacity, he said. Our clients' claims are based on the superior Law of Restitution and not on Contract Law as Mr. Fisher may have assumed. The principles of good conscience, fairness and justice are the basic components of the Law of Restitution and they demand that any benefit, through taxes paid for over 58 years for the upkeep of 'Atalanga, conferred on 'Atalanga belongs to those taxpayers and the King, as registered owner, is holding that benefit as trustee under a constructive trust and the taxpayers are the beneficiaries. The equitable relationship just described between the Tongan taxpayers and the King is the basis for the lodgment of Caveats against the land title of 'Atalanga," Joel stated.

Referring to New Zealand law he said it was a matter of case law that a Caveat based on Constructive Trust has to be accepted by the Registrar-General of Land without fail and noted against the land title. "But then a Judge of the High Court of New Zealand would decide what may constitute a Constructive Trust in a particular fact situation."

He said that similarly, "any action made by a party that may tantamount to being considered 'vexatious' is again another prerogative power of a Judge of the High Court to rule upon and not for Mr. Fisher to pre-determine. Mr. Fisher may be retained by the King on a big fee but we must remind him that his threatening behavior against other lawyers and their clients may lead to a complaint to the New Zealand Law Society for unsatisfactory conduct on his part," said Joel today.

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