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Papua New Guinea Law

Legal system of Papua New Guinea 

Source: Commonwealth Governance

PNG Judgments

Judgments are available through PACLII for courts including:

Papua New Guinea Law Reports 

Papua New Guinea Law Reports contain cases determined in the National Court of Justice and the Supreme Court of Justice.

Decisions from 1963 to 2005 are available through PACLII.

An index to the Papua New Guinea Law Reports is available through PACLII.

The Law Library holds this law report series in hard copy from 1990 to 1998 (see catalogue record).

PNG Courts 

The PNG court system comprises a two-tiered system of courts of general jurisdiction:

  • Supreme Court of Justice (established by s 160(1) of the Constitution) – the highest court in Papua New Guinea. It is a superior court of record. The Supreme Court hears appeals from the National Court, and can also review National Court decisions. Section 18 of the Constitution provides that the Supreme Court has original and exclusive jurisdiction as to any question relating to the interpretation or application of any provision of Constitution and other Constitutional laws.
  • National Court of Justice (which includes courts located in the provincial capitals) was established by s 163(1) of the Constitution. It is a superior court of record, has original jurisdiction as a trial court, and appellate jurisdiction to hear appeals from the District Courts.

See more information on the National and Supreme Courts of Papua New Guinea website.

Other Courts

Section 172(1) of the Constitution provides that Acts of Parliament may establish other courts within the National Judicial System. Section 172(2) provides that such courts may include courts intended to deal with matters primarily by reference to custom or in accordance with customary procedures, or both. The Magisterial Service is established by s 173 – it is responsible for other courts established under s 172. See more information on the Magisterial Service website. These courts are District Courts and include:

The Village Courts Act 1989 provides for the establishment of village courts by the Minister on request from the local community.

The National and Supreme Courts of Papua New Guinea website states that the National Judicial System includes other special courts such as Military Courts, Taxation Courts, Mining Warden Courts, Traffic Courts, Committal Courts and Grade five courts.