3.0242 Land and titles division—Rules.

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(a) The Chief Justice shall, by order, prescribe rules and forms to govern the conduct of proceedings before the land and titles division. The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Title 28, U.S.C., shall have no application to proceedings before the land and titles division.

(b) In any matter of practice or procedure not provided for, or where the strict compliance with any rule of practice or procedure may be inequitable or inconvenient, the land and titles division may act in each case in such manner as it considers to be most consistent with natural justice and convenience.

History: 1967, PL, 10-17; 1968, PL, 10-62; 1969, PL, 11-54; 1970, PL, 11-116; PL. 11-119; amd 1979, PL, 16-28 § 13.

Amendments: 1979 Changed constitution of the division, a quorum and who shall hear controversies.

Case Notes:

Reference to court’s direction to act not inconsistent with natural justice and convenience. Kaliopa v. Silao and Harris. 2 ASR 2d 1(1983).

Common law governs notions for new trial in Lands and Titles as it most nearly reflects “natural justice and convenience. Narruh V. Afenoa. ASR (1979).

Land and titles have a distinct and relaxed set of procedures. The strict standards which apply in federal court as to dissolution of temporary restraining orders do not apply. Tuilefano v. Beaver, ASR (1978).

Court’s broad powers to govern the conduct of proceedings and apply equitable remedies includes canceling records made by government officials on grounds of fraud or mistake. Fuimaono v Penitusi, ASR (1978).

Rule 24(a), Fed. R. Civ. P, applied in Land and Titles Division, expressly provides application to intervene be timely made. Maae v. Pomele, ASR (1977).

while the court is proscribed from using the Fed. R. Civ P. in Land and Titles Division, it is not proscribed from using rulings that interpret those rules nor from seeking guidance from those rules. Faalafu v. 5ala, ASR (1977).

Territorial statute giving court power to suspend procedural rules that would lead to inequitable result does not give court power to suspend rules of substantive law. A.S.C.A. § 3.0242. Ape v. Puagele, 3 A.S.R.2d 109 (1986).

Territorial statute permitting court to subordinate rules of “practice or procedure” to exigencies of justice and convenience does not give the court power to overturn a final judgement in the absence of new evidence, fraud, surprise, or similar circumstances, since resjudicata is a rule of substantive law and not of procedure. A.S.C.A. § 3.0242(b); T.C.R.C.P. Rule 60. Willis v. Willis, 4 A.S.R.2d 144 (1987).

When petitioner in land dispute has failed to seek relief from the Office of Samoan Affairs as required by statute prior to seeking judicial remedy, but respondent has answered and appeared before High Court, court would observe considerations of equity and convenience by staying the action pending compliance with the administrative relief requirements rather than dismissing the action altogether. A.S.C.A. §§ 3.0242, 43.0302(a). Moeisogi v. Faleafine, 5 A.S.R.2d 131 (1987).

Statutory standard of “natural justice and convenience” requires that in land matters a party eventually be accorded his day in court and therefore, although the court prefers that all parties be present at a hearing, it will proceed without the defendants where they have continually postponed the trial date and failed to appear after proper notice of the trial date. A.S.C.A. § 3.0242. Ava v. Moe, 8 A.S.R.2d 95 (1988).

Court acted properly in granting motion to dismiss at conclusion of plaintiffs’ case, at least in light of Territorial statute allowing land court to proceed in such manner as it considers to be most consistent with natural justice and convenience, where plaintiffs objected that evidence they had been saving for rebuttal could have established a prima facie case but court concluded that defendants would prevail even if plaintiffs succeeded in proving every fact they offered to prove on rebuttal. A.S.C.A. § 3.0242. Willis v. Fai’ivae, 10 A.S.R.2d 121 (1989).