The Government of the Republic of Nauru

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Office of the Solicitor General

 

For a long time, the Office of the Solicitor General comprised mainly of the Solicitor General, a Pleader and a clerk. With its limited capacity, the Office often needed to engage lawyers working in the other Sections of the JBC Secretariat on an ad hoc basis to assist with the work, especially with appearances in Court. With the recent expansion of the Office, it has seen the following achievements:

  1. The appointment of the new Solicitor General who leads the Section under the revised structure. Initially introduced to Nauru as the Deputy Solicitor General, Ms. Bhavna Narayan successfully manages the Office and mentors her young team of legal practitioners and paralegals in the field of civil litigation on behalf of the Republic.
  2. Ms. Surely Grace Kamtaura a local law graduate from Waikato University in New Zealand completed her online Professional Legal Scores Program and has been recently admitted to the Nauru Bar. She is a new member of the civil litigation team which now comprises of 2 legal officers along with Ms. Patricia Grundler.
  3. The Section is also joined by a paralegal officer, Ms. Ofa Fay Temaki who is in charge of file management and other clerical work in the Section.
  4. Opportunities for legal training has been extended to Ms. Taesha Aliklik, an intern working with the Justice Department under the Department of the Chief Secretary's Student Internship Program (SIP). Ms. Aliklik is also undertaking the Pleaders Course 2021 and has the advantage of observing and gaining experience in the law profession field she is studying in the Pleaders Course.

The improved structure has stimulated smoother operations and anticipates higher expectations in advancing internal processes to better achieve the Office's objectives.

 

In the course of the reporting period, there have been 8 significant civil cases against the Republic represented by the Office of the Solicitor General. These were in relation to claims against the Republic, the Republic's claim under the Housing Scheme and appeals against the decisions of the Nauru Lands Committee (NLC). 

 

 

Our Team

 

Position Name
Solicitor General Bhavna Narayan
Personal Assistant Taesha Aliklik
Principal Legal Officer (Civil Litigation) Vacant
Senior Legal Officer Vacant
Legal Officer Patricia Grundler
Legal Officer Surely Kamtaura
Pleader (Civil Litigation) Jeruska Togoran
Paralegal (Civil Litigation) Ofa Fay Temaki

 

 

Objectives


  • Represent the Government and its entities  in civil litigation
  • Provide legal advice to the Government and its entities in relation to contract and interpretation of the law

 

 

Motivation

 

The Republic is not immune from legal action.

 

 

Strategic Plan Priority Area 4: Cost Cutting Sectors

 

Cross-Goal 1

Strengthen Parliament, audit, justice, law, order and border control.

 

 

Achievements

 

An important highlight of these cases was on the issue of the requirement for the consent of the Cabinet, for example  in the case of Benjamin v Nauru Police Force [2021] NRSC 2; Civil Suit 2 of 2019 (12 January 2021). This was a matter in which the Plaintiff had made a claim in tort against the Republic. The Office applied to strike out this action on the basis that the plaintiff filed the action without having obtained prior consent of the Cabinet as required under the Republic Proceedings Act 1972. The Court held in favour of the strike out application on the basis that it was barred from hearing the matter as the required Cabinet consent was not obtained. 

 

The Mobit v Nauru Police Force [2021] NRSC 1; Civil Suit 21 of 2019 (12 January 2021) is another matter in which the Plaintiff filed an action in tort against the Republic without obtaining the consent of the Cabinet. However, the Plaintiff argued that the action was in relation to seeking declaratory orders only and therefore did not seek to enforce a claim against the Republic. The Office argued that it was an attempt to circumvent the requirement for  Cabinet consent under the Act. The Court held in favour of this argument and dismissed the action.

 

 

Way Forward


  • The Office intends to improve its system further. Whilst the team of legal practitioners strives to maintain their case files in a satisfactory order and also prepares a monthly report on the case files, currently all documents are kept as paperwork. Going forward, there is a need for the Office to start keeping electronic records as part of its file management system to enhance the security of the Office's files. This is also to secure the records of the numerous legal advices provided by the Office to its stakeholders.
  • The Office will set up a data-sharing database whereby the Office's cases are recorded and all documents in each case file can be uploaded and safely stored. The advantage of having a data-sharing database is that every member of the team will have access to the electronic database. This will allow each legal practitioner in charge of a matter to upload information on the status of their cases and all other members of the team will be able to access the database to get updates on each case. This will also allow future access of case files and records of legal advices by incoming incumbents.