rangement of Provisions
1. Short title and commencement
3. Act binds the Government
THE FAMILY COURT
4. Family Court
5. Appointment of Family Court
7. Alternative dispute resolution
JURISDICTION OF THE FAMILY
9. Court sittings
10. Attendance at hearings
11. Publication of reports of
12. Proceedings to be brought and
dealt with under Family Court
13. Case stated to Supreme Court
14. Transfer to Supreme Court
15. Application of District Courts Act
16. Family Court Coordinator
18. Family Court Rules
20. Transitional and saving provisions
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2014, No. 19
AN ACT to establish the Family Court as a Division of the District
Court and to provide for the constitution, jurisdiction, powers
and procedures of the Family Court, and for related purposes.
BE IT ENACTED by the Legislative Assembly of Samoa in
Parliament assembled as follows:
1. Short title and commencement-(1) This Act may be cited as
the Family Court Act 2014.
(2) This Act commences on a date to be nominated by the Minister
for Justice and Courts Administration.
2. Interpretation - In this Act, unless the context otherwise
“Alternative dispute resolution”:
(a) means a process used to resolve disputes between parties which is outside the usual court-based litigation model;
(b) includes processes of mediation, arbitration, reconciliation
and conciliation applied in accordance with the
Alternative Dispute Resolution Act 2007.
“Authorised counsellor” means an organisation, association,
incorporated body, person or group of persons or agency -
appointed under section 17;
“Family Court” or “Court” means the Family Court established
under section 4;
“Family Court Judge” means a District Court Judge exercising the
jurisdiction of the Family Court;
“Family Court Rules” means the rules made under section 18;
“lawyer” means a person admitted as a barrister and solicitor of the
3. Act binds the Government - This Act binds the Government.
2014, No. 19 Family Court 3
ESTABLISHMENT OF THE FAMILY COURT
4. Family Court-(1) The Family Court is established.
(2) The Family Court shall:
(a) be a division of the District Court; and
(b) consist of Family Court Judges appointed pursuant to this
5. Appointment of Family Court Judges-(1) The Head of State,
acting on the advice of the Judicial Service Commission, may appoint
a fit and proper person as a District Court Judge pursuant to section 5
of the District Courts Act 1969 to be a Family Court Judge.
(2) A person appointed under subsection (1) must be a suitable
person to deal with matters relating to Family Law.
(3) A Family Court Judge may from time to time sit as or exercise
any of the powers of a District Court Judge.
(4) A District Court Judge may from time to time sit as or exercise
any of the powers of a Family Court Judge.
CONCILIATION AND RESOLUTION
6. Conciliation-(1) In any proceedings commenced in the Family
Court, the Court must, so far as possible, promote conciliation.
(2) A lawyer acting for a party in a proceeding in the Family Court
must, so far as possible, promote conciliation.
7. Alternative dispute resolution - Prior to a substantive hearing
in the Family Court the parties must engage in some form of
alternative dispute resolution to the satisfaction of the Court, unless the
Court is satisfied that there is no reasonable prospect of agreement
being reached, or the circumstances of the case are such that
Alternative dispute resolution is inappropriate.
JURISDICTION OF THE FAMILY COURT
8. Jurisdiction-(1) The Family Court has jurisdiction to hear and
determine a matter or proceedings under any of the following
(a) Infants Ordinance 1961;
(b) Family Safety Act 2013;
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(c) Maintenance and Affiliation Act 1967;
(d) Divorce and Matrimonial Causes Ordinance 1961;
(e) Marriage Ordinance 1961;
(f) Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 2002;
(g) any other enactment conferring jurisdiction on the Family
Court or the District Court.
(2) A reference to the Supreme Court, District Court or other
subordinate court in any enactment under subsection (1) is amended
and to be read as a reference to the Family Court.
9. Court sittings - The Senior District Court Judge may determine
the regular and special sittings of the Family Court in any place, date
and times determined by the Judge.
10. Attendance at hearings-(1) The only persons who may attend
a hearing of proceedings in the Family Court are as follows:
(a) officers of the Court; and
(b) parties to the proceedings; and
(c) lawyers representing parties to the proceedings; and
(d) witnesses; and
(e) accredited news media reporters; and
(f) persons whom the Family Court Judge permits to be present
as support persons for a party on a request by that party;
(g) any other persons whom the Family Court Judge permits to
(2) Nothing in this section limits any other power of the Court:
(a) to hear proceedings in private; or
(b) to permit a McKenzie friend to be present; or
(c) to exclude any person from the Court.
11. Publication of reports of proceedings-(1) A person may
publish a report of proceedings in the Family Court if the identity of
the parties, any children and other vulnerable persons who are the
subject of proceedings, including any matters that might lead to their
identification, are not published.
(2) This section also applies to sections 13 and 14.
(3) A person who publishes or causes to be published any
confidential matter in contravention of subsection (1) commits an
offence and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding 50 penalty
units or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six (6) months, or
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(4) In this section, “publish” includes to publish in any internet site
(including publication on any linking mobile or portable device or
similar device) that is generally accessible to the public.
12. Proceedings to be brought and dealt with under Family
Court Rules - All proceedings in the Family Court must be brought
and dealt with under the Family Court Rules, or District Court Rules
13. Case stated to Supreme Court-(1) A Family Court may, on
application or on its own initiative, state a case for the opinion of the
Supreme Court on any question of law arising in a matter before the
(2) When the order for a case stated is sealed, the Registrar of the
District Court must, send to the Registrar of the Supreme Court a copy
of the order, all pleadings, affidavits, and other documents filed in the
Family Court relating to the proceedings and any other documents as
the Family Court Judge may direct.
(3) The Supreme Court may hear and determine the case stated
under this section as if the proceedings had been originally
commenced in the Supreme Court pursuant to the Supreme Court
(Civil Procedure) Rules 1980.
14. Transfer to Supreme Court-(1) The Family Court may, on
application or on its own initiative, order that the proceedings be
transferred to the Supreme Court if it is satisfied that it is expedient
that the proceedings be dealt with by the Supreme Court because of the
complexity of the proceedings or of any question in issue in the
(2) The Supreme Court has the same jurisdiction as the Family
Court had in hearing and determining the proceedings transferred
under this section.
15. Application of District Courts Act 1969-(1) Except for the
matters provided in this Act, the District Courts Act 1969 applies to
this Act, with any necessary modifications and adaptations, as if
references to the District Court and the District Court Judges were
references to the Family Court and the Family Court Judge.
(2) This Act prevails if there is a conflict between this Act and the
District Courts Act 1969.
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16. Family Court Coordinator-(1) The Registrar of the District
Court must coordinate counselling and related services required for the
proper functioning of the Family Court.
(2) The Registrar may delegate the duty under subsection (1) to
any officer or employee of the Ministry of Justice and Courts
17. Counsellors - The Registrar may appoint Authorised
Counsellors on such terms and conditions as provided for by the
Family Court Rules.
18. Family Court Rules-(1) The Head of State, acting on the
advice of the Prime Minister and with the concurrence of the Rules
Committee, may make rules regulating the practice and procedure of
the Family Court.
(2) Without limiting subsection (1), rules may provide for:
(a) the form and contents of documents;
(b) forms required under the Act and the authority to make
(c) the method for serving documents and giving notice;
(d) the transfer of proceedings;
(e) the keeping, searching and transfer of records;
(f) the counselling services and procedures;
(g) the dispute resolution mechanisms unless mediation rules
for the purpose are made under the Alternative Dispute
Resolution Act 2007;
(h) any other matter necessary for regulating the practice or
procedure of the Family Court.
19. Regulations - The Head of State, acting on the advice of
Cabinet, may make regulations necessary for the implementation of or
for the purposes of this Act, and in particular regulations to prescribe:
(a) fees for proceedings, or intended proceedings, in the Family
Court and other matters relating to fees; and
(b) proceedings that concern matters of genuine public interest.
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20. Transitional and saving provisions - All matters and
proceedings commenced or pending in the Supreme Court or District
Court before the commencement of this Act under any enactment
referred to in section 8 are to be transferred forthwith to be heard and
determined in the Family Court.
The Family Court Act 2014 is administered by the
Ministry of Justice and Courts Administration.