Tonga Judge Rejects Effort By Public Union To Stop Implementation Of New Salary Structure

Court has no authority to decide ‘quintessentially political questions’ 

NUKU‘ALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, Sept. 22, 2016) – An application by the Public Service Association (PSA), for an Injunction and a Judicial Review of a Cabinet decision to implement a new salary structure for Civil Servants that was structured by the Remuneration Authority, was rejected by Lord Chief Justice O. G. Paulsen on 13 September 2016.

On 5 August 2016 the PSA applied for an Injunction to restrain the Government of Tonga, the Public Service Commission and the Remuneration Authority from implementing a salary structure that was outlined in the Remuneration Authority report of June 2014 and September 2015.

The application for an Injunction, according to Chief Justice Paulsen “was in the nature of Judicial Review, but leave had not been granted to commence judicial review proceedings.”

On 11 August the PSA filed an application for Judicial Review.

However, the Chief Justice stated that what the PSA was seeking was a judicial review of Cabinet’s decisions 661 and 662 of 8 July 2015 to implement the recommendations of the Remuneration Authority as to the remuneration and other benefits of public service employees contained in the Remuneration Authority’s reports of July 2014 and September 2015.

He stated that for “the Court to investigate Cabinet’s decisions that are challenged in this case the Court would necessarily need to scrutinise the deliberations in Cabinet and the basis upon which the decisions were made…These are ‘quintessentially political questions’ that this Court is not suited to adjudicate upon. It is not the function of the Court to do so in my view.”

Matangi Tonga Magazine
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