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Reports of the Native Affairs Committee, 1880.

No. 232 of 1880.—Petition of the Ngatiapa Tribe

No. 232 of 1880.—Petition of the Ngatiapa Tribe.

Petitioners state that they were interested in land which was brought into Court on the 24th June, 1880, at Bulls, the other claimants being the Ngatihauiti Tribe; that on the 5th July, after the case for the latter tribe had been nearly completed, and before the petitioners had entered upon theirs, the Court decided that it would not any longer hear lawyers; that by this action the petitioners were hindered from fairly stating their case; that thereupon they withdrew, and the Court closed; that by the action of the Court they had lost about £500 in expenses incurred. The petitioners pray for redress.

I am directed to report as follows:—

That it would seem that the Court considered that the legal gentlemen employed were very unnecessarily consuming time, to the great cost of the parties concerned as well as to the country. It may be a question whether, having allowed counsel for a time, it would not have been more judicious to allow the case to come to an end without interference. In this regard the Committee has evidence to warrant the belief that the proceedings, if begun afresh, without lawyers or agents, would probably save money to the petitioners. It is further in evidence that a new sitting of the Court will be shortly held for this case, under a new Judge and a new Assessor. Pending the result of the new trial the Committee cannot at present recommend any action.

The Committee also thinks it right to call the attention of the Government to the fact stated by the Chief Judge in his evidence before the Committee to the effect that, beyond the power of excluding lawyers or agents altogether, the Court has no control over their action, or any power to tax their charges, and that lawyers by professing to act as native agents can escape taxation and control by the Supreme Court or any other Court.

21st July, 1880.