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Court of Appeal

The Court of Appeal hears all appeals from the Supreme Court and from the Land Court except appeals from the Land Court relating to the determination of hereditary estates and titles (clause 92 of the Constitution).

There is no right of appeal from the decisions of the Court of Appeal. It is the highest court in the Kingdom except in respect of appeals from the Land Court on matters concerning hereditary estates and titles. Those appeals are heard by His Majesty in Privy Council.

The Court of Appeal sits at Nuku’alofa twice a year for up to two weeks each session. The sessions are usually in March/April and September. The rulings of the Court are delivered at the end of each session.

There is a panel of Judges of the Court of Appeal. The Judges are appointed by His Majesty in Privy Council (clause 85 of the Constitution).

All Court of Appeal Judges are presently appointed on fixed term contracts.

The selection of which Judges will sit during each session of the Court is made by the Lord President of the Court of Appeal (often in consultation with the Vice President).

The Lord President of the Court of Appeal is Lord President Owen Godfrey Paulsen.  

The Vice President is Hon. Justice Michael Moore.

There were two resident Judges of the Court of Appeal in the reporting period namely the Lord President Owen Godfrey Paulsen and Lord Tevita Tupou. The other Judges reside overseas. The overseas Judges are all eminent jurists who have held high judicial office in their own countries.

The overseas Judges that sat on the Court of Appeal in this reporting period were:

Hon. Justice Michael Moore (Australia) (Vice President);

Hon. Justice Kenneth Handley (Australia);

Hon. Justice Sir Peter Blanchard (New Zealand); and

Hon. Justice Rodney Hansen QC (New Zealand).

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