7 Mar 2005

Fiji Native Land Trust Board weighs up options following court ruling on leases

7:36 pm on 7 March 2005

Fiji's Native Land Trust Board is considering its options in the wake of a Court of Appeal ruling that all 99-year leases on native land outside urban areas are illegal.

The legal challenge was brought by a landowning unit whose land was leased by the NLTB to the government for 30 years to plant mahogany before the board cancelled the old lease in 1974 and issued a new one for 99 years.

But, the NLTB's deputy general manager, Semi Tabakanalagi, says the ruling is just one case and doesn't mean there will be a flood of similar litigation.

He says the ruling only applies to those such leases that were issued on undeveloped areas before 1984 regulations which allow the board to issue 99 year-leases.

"Basically, as I said, we are looking at our records on other leases that may be affected because of this ruling. We'll have to look at our leases portfolio and look at the different terms and different users and then assess which ones fall into this category as was decided upon in that case."

Semi Tabakanalagi says appealing the Supreme Court decision is an option for the board.