Costly land dispute through court system

DEAR EDITOR, I had an experience of 18 years of customary land dispute that went through court system from 2008 to 2018.

The incident was on a tribal land at home, however that 18 years of court process has affected local villagers by disunity, division, frustration, argument and tribal fight among people.

The court process has also brought the land disputing parties into lengthy and costly litigation.

This is when court did not understand “customary land dispute” that falls outside of court jurisdiction.

Thus, the problems identified with the following processes are as follows,

1, Chiefs hearing of land settlement.

  1. a) Chief’s decision has no hand written document just like what the formal courts do.
  2. b) Chief’s decision should be descriptive and narrative records of the proceedings and determination by the chiefs
  3. c) Forms (1) and (2) in the schedule to the Act should be filled by the chief.
  4. d) Chief are lacking training in legal proceedings.

2, Local Court

  1. a) Local court decision must be complete using the provision of or requirements of section 12, (1), (a) and (b) of the local court Act (cap 19).
  2. b) Local court must conduct a land survey and define the boundary and survey report must attaches to the decision.
  3. c) Local court to discharge its statutory chapter under local court act, cap 19, section 13 (a) to (e).
  4. d) Local court justice must often come down to the villages to conduct court on land issues.

3, Customary land Appeal Court

  1. a) The court should not accept to write and issues letters on behalf of a party against another in any issue or dispute involving or affecting customary land or using magistrate office stamp.
  2. b) The court should not issue certificate of no appeal in respect of customary land acquisition.

4, Private lawyer legal service

  1. a) Many customary land cases ended up in High court trials and pending that are waiting for referral to the low courts for more evidences, because the submission is incomplete by the land court requirement.
  2. b) Most parties did not submit complete customary land documents as they use private lawyers legal service to compile their documents by paying lawyers administration fees to do the following.

1) Type in the form of High Court ruling.

11) Write the name of a retired previous chief Justice against the ruling.

111) Using High Court office stamp

I appeal to the government of the day to bring Traditional Governance and Custom Facilitations Bill 2018 to the parliament for approval to solve dispute in Solomon Islands.

Because I didn’t see problems with lands thus, it is with the people.


Henry Tabusu

Private sector community educator in North Malaita

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