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Papua New Guinea Law - Legal Research Guide: Introduction to PNG & its Legal System

Guide to law resources in Papua New Guinea

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PNG Legal Research Guide

Online Guides to PNG Legal Research

Country Profile Information

The Independent State of Papua New Guinea comprises the eastern half of the large island of the New Guinea and a number of smaller island provinces extending from the nearby Bismarck Archipelago east to Bougainville in the Soloman Islands group. The incredibly diverse population embraces dozens of different ethnic groups further broken down into over 700 linguistic divisions.

Source: Foreign Law Guide

There are 19 provinces in PNG including the island of Bougainville (now the North Solomons Province) and Port Moresby, the National Capital District. The Queen of England continues as head of state, represented by her governor-general. The executive power is vested in the National Executive Council which acts through the governor-general. The unicameral parliament is at the head of a federal structure. The National Parliament has been accorded exclusive powers in some areas; it is permitted to divest itself of exclusive powers in other areas and must share certain powers with the separately elected provincial assemblies. 

Source: Foreign Law Guide

For detailed country profile information about Papua New Guinea - its history, political system, statistics demographics, econoimics etc - refer to:

Doing Business in Papua New Guinea

World Bank - Doing Business in Papua New Guinea (public access)

PNG Legal System

Summary of PNG sources of law: Papua New Guinea’s legal sources are enumerated U.K. and Australian statutes plus the English common law and the principles of equity as at 16 September 1975, so long as there is no conflict with the constitution and local law and custom. Conversely, local law and custom must also conform to constitutional principles and must not be repugnant to general principles of humanity. Legislation continues to be the primary source of law, and  there is a growing body  of judge-made law, consisting of both English and Papuan decisions made since independence. 

Source: Foreign Law Guide

For detailed background and historical information on PNG's legal system, refer to:

Guide Author

This Research Guide is maintained by Robin Gardner, Academic Research Service, Melbourne Law School. Please contact Robin at with corrections, suggestions or comments about the Guide.