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43.0302 Certificate of irreconcilable dispute.

Cite as [A.S.C.A. § 43.0302]

(a) Before any action relating to controversies over communal land or matai titles may be commenced in the Land and Titles Division, each party shall file with his complaint a certificate signed and attested by the Secretary of Samoan Affairs or his deputy, in which the Secretary or his deputy affirms and states:

(1) that on at least 2 occasions, the parties have appeared personally before him and 2 persons designated by him, without an attorney or counsel, and that an attempt was made to resolve the controversy;

(2) that all parties to the controversy received at least 20 days notice for each of the 2 required appearances;

(3) the date and hour of the beginning and conclusion of each appearance;

(4) the findings and conclusions of the Secretary or his deputy and the 2 designees with respect to the controversy heard before them, including a statement of the reason why the controversy could not be resolved.

(b) The certification mentioned in subsection (a) may not be required prior to the issuance of a temporary restraining order issued by the Chief Justice or an Associate Justice to prevent the occurring of irreparable damage.

History: 1972, PL 12-59 § l; and 1973, PL 13-39.

Amendments: 1973 Designated original section subsection (a) and added subsection (b).

Case Notes:

No certificate of irreconcilable dispute filed; letter, while deficient in form, constitutes sufficient substance. Maria v. Tuli, ASR (1978).

Claim lodged in Territorial Registrar’s Office at time of trial could not be heard by court; no certificate of irreconcilable conflict. Fanene v. Talio, ASR (1977).

To permit a temporary restraining order to be effective for an extended period without benefit of a hearing deprives a person of his liberty and property without due process of law. Such order is not effective soon after it is issued if there is no hearing on issue of irreparable damage occurring if the order is not issued. Faalafu v. Sala, ASR (1977).

The requirement that controversies be presented to the office of Samoan Affairs prior to the filing of a claim for relief with the High Court, is procedural and not jurisdictional. Tavai P. Kaleopa v. Nia-Marie & Company, Inc., ASR (1980).

When petitioner in land dispute has failed to seek relief from the Department of Samoan Affairs as required by statute prior to seeking judicial remedy, but respondent has answered and appeared before High Court, court would observe considerations of equity and convenience by staying the action pending compliance with the administrative relief requirements rather than dismissing the action altogether. A.S.C.A. §§ 3.0242, 43.0302(a). Moeisogi v. Faleafine, 5 A.S.R.2d 131 (1987).

Statutory requirement that parties submit a land dispute to the Office of Samoan Affairs before applying to the court for relief applies only to communal lands, and therefore did not deprive the court of jurisdiction over a dispute concerning individually owned lands. A.S.C.A. § 43.0302. Sese v. Leota, 9 A.S.R.2d 136 (1988).

Jurisdictional requirement that plaintiff must "file with his complaint a certificate" from office of territorial official, certifying that the parties have met twice and that the meetings did not result in a resolution of the dispute, was met where such a certificate was filed, notwithstanding evidence that an earlier letter by the same official tended to negative the existence of an irreconcilable dispute. A.S.C.A. § 43.0302. Leota v. Sese, 12 A.S.R.2d 18 (1988).

Letter from territorial official charged with mediating land disputes, stating the outline of a proposal by one of the parties but not even hinting that the other parties had ever agreed to the proposal, did not negate the existence of an irreconcilable dispute among the parties. A.S.C.A. § 43.0302. Leota v. Sese, 12 A.S.R.2d 18 (1988).

Statute requiring attempted resolution of "controversies over matai titles" before Secretary of Samoan Affairs before judicial action may be commenced applies not only to cases of matai appointment but also to petitions for matai removal. A.S.C.A. § 43.0302(a). Members of the Taufi Family v. Taufi (Mem.), 12 A.S.R.2d 6 (1989).

Where certificate of irreconcilable dispute from Secretary of Samoan Affairs was issued upon misinformation given by a party to the dispute, proceedings in Land & Titles Division would be stayed pending certification by the Secretary of compliance with statutory procedures for attempted resolution. A.S.C.A § 43.0302. In re Matai Title Mulitauaopele (Mem.), 12 A.S.R.2d 8 (1989).

A party's contention that a piece of land is communal brings into play the requirements of A.S.C.A. § 43.0302. Ava v. Logoa'i, 20 A.S.R.2d 51 (1992).