8 Sep 2010

Tonga's overloaded judiciary reduced to two judges - Law Society

5:49 pm on 8 September 2010

The Tonga Law Society says the country's judicial system is almost at a standstill with just one Supreme Court judge and one magistrate employed.

This comes after the departure of former Chief Justice Anthony Ford, who's replacement Michael Scott is yet to arrive, and Warwick Andrew, who says he was stopped by the Government from completing his cases and told to finish his term early.

The Government has denied that claim, saying it was just complying with Justice Andrew's desire to go early.

The chair of the Law Society, Laki Niu, says the loss of judges includes eight of the country's nine magistrates.

"I can't say much about why they have resigned but I know one has resigned to run as a candidate for parliament's election in November, but there is only one magistrate and he's the chief magistrate and he has all the work - hundreds and hundreds of cases he can't handle."