7 Mar 2005

Fiji Landowners Association welcomes court ruling against 99 year leases

4:16 pm on 7 March 2005

The Vanua Mahogany Landowners Association has welcomed a Fiji Court of Appeal ruling that all 99-year leases on native land outside urban areas are illegal.

The Association's lawyer Isireli Fa, who headed the legal challenge to the leases, says the court ruling means all such leases are therefore unenforceable.

The landowners' land was originally leased by the Native Land Trust Board to the government for 30 years to plant mahogany.

But in 1974 the NLTB cancelled the old lease and issued a new one for 99 years over the same piece of land.

Mr Fa says the court's ruling against this lease is a welcome result to a long legal process.

"For the last five years, we have been telling the government that the documents they hold in relation to leases over the clients land were defective, and that the agreement between the landowners and the government was only for thirty years;"

and that the Native Land Trust Board mistakenly thought it had the power to increase the lease tenure from 30 to 99 years and that's all been proven to be incorrect.

Isireli Fa