A by-election has been avoided in Samoa after the Lands and Titles Court confirmed the right of an MP to the chiefly title Fuimaono.
Fuimaono Faasopo entered parliament in a by-election for the Falaelili seat following the death of incumbent MP. Fuimaono Mimio.
But another part of the Fuimaono clan, led by Fuimaono Lafaele disputed his right to the family title.
Only matai may run for parliament in 47 seats including that of Falaelili.
Removal of Fuimaono's chiefly status would have caused an automatic by-election.
But the court was satisfied that the title had been bestowed legally.
In February 1996 a public announcement declaring the bestowal ceremony was issued as required by law.
Fuimaono Lafaele and Fuimaono Limoni both protested they had not known of the announcement and filed legal action in January 1997.
The court ruled that the required three months allowed for complaints against the bestowal ceremony had passed and that the objectors had acted too late.