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Trustees Rep Notes A Rise In De-Facto Cases

Trustees Rep Notes A Rise In De-Facto Cases
Fiji Public Trustees Corporation Limited executive John Mow with chief executive officer Antonio Takala and Priya Lal Photo PARLIAMENT OF FIJI
April 02
12:13 2018

Since the De-facto Bill was passed in Parliament last month, the Fiji Public Trustee Corporation Limited (FPTCL) has seen an upswing in the number of cases involving claimants who are not legally married.

Corporation’s representative Priya Lal made this comment to the Standing Committee on Social Affairs in Parliament on Thursday after Member of Parliament Anare Vadei asked whether the new Act affected any disbursement of funds.

Ms Lal said this had been discussed and would affect FPTCL because most of the clients coming to their office were de-facto partners and had been left out.

“Now we are looking at an influx of cases after this amendment,” Ms Lal said.

The De-facto Bill was not new because there were already laws that existed in the Family Law Act that recognised de facto relationships.

It is understood there was already a provision to the Fiji National Provident Fund (FNPF) Act that recongnised de-facto relationships and the Bill was applicable in instances where there was no will.

In other matters, the Standing Committee chairperson Veena Bhatnagar asked Fiji Public Trustee Corporation Limited if funds left in the hands of the high court were invested anywhere and if beneficiaries reaped the benefit once they obtained it?

Fiji Public Trustee Corporation Limited chief executive officer Antonio Takala said in estate cases like properties, FPTCL held onto the property until the beneficiaries turned 18.

Mr Takala said in most cases, one parent would be alive or there would be a legal guardian. He said their role was to act as trustees and not guardians.

He said they were not sure if the court did ensure if funds were invested or not.

However, Ms Lal said they have recently taken a precedent case before the High Court, whereby a parent wanted the iji Public Trustee Corporation Limited to be trustees and not the High Court.

She said they were now awaiting the ruling of the High Court.

Ms Lal said this had been challenged in court and was a precedent case.

She said previously, before the amendment of the Fiji National Provident Fund (FNPF) Act, all funds used to come to the corporation.

However, she said the High Court advised they were bound by the Act and unless the Act was changed than they could not give the funds to them.

“But we have made submission, on the balance of convenience that it would be better if the funds are with us so the guardians on an ad hoc basis can take out the funds for the beneficiaries so that their welfare and education is looked after,” she said.

“But with the High Court, it indicated that through the Chief Registrar’s Office it does not invest the funds, if the guardian would ask for the funds, a court application would have to be made every time.

“But with us the guardian comes to us and we do a strict stringent process and once satisfied we release the funds.”

Edited by Percy Kean




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