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The Selected Laws and Judicial System of Papua New Guinea

Mek H. Kamongmenan is a senior tutor of law at the School of Law, University of Papua New Guinea, and a lawyer.

Comparing Four Types of Laws and the Papua New Guinea's Judicial System

The Selected laws and Judicial Systems of Papua New Guinea


1. Distinguish between Criminal Law and Civil Law and the Roles each play in the society.

Criminal law deals with criminal offenses that are committed against the state, these offenses include, murder and rape. In a criminal case the state prosecutes the accused and the victim becomes the State witness. If the court finds the accused person guilty he will either pay a fine to the state or be imprisoned. The main object of the criminal law is to punish the wrongdoer, and to teach him and others a lesson on not to commit the offense again.

Civil law deals with regulating the relationship of individuals with each other. In a civil case the victim takes the matter to court against the defendant. If the court is satisfied that the defendant has done wrong against the plaintiff according to law, it shall order compensation or specific performance by the defendant to the plaintiff.

2. What is Substantive Law and what is Procedural Law?

Substantive law deals with the establishment of rights and obligations of an individual. Procedural law on the other hand deals with the ways in which substantive law can be enforced[1]. For example, when a person commits a criminal offense, the substantive law, defines the type of crime and the severity of the crime and the procedural law on the other hand lay down the steps to of prosecute an offender.

Substantive law is an independent set of laws and has the power to offer legal solution, and it can even decide the fate of the case. Procedural law is not capable of existing independently and therefore it only tells us how the legal process is to be executed. In terms of application, substantive law cannot be applied in a non-legal context but a procedural law is able to be.

3. Discuss the courts in PNG and further discuss their powers and functions. (Each of the courts discussed should be listed with a description of their powers and functions)

The national judicial system of Papua New Guinea is established under section 155 of the Constitution. The National judicial system consists of the Supreme Court, and national court and other courts established under section 172 of the Constitution. The courts that are established under section 172 are inferior courts, and include the district court and others.

The Supreme Court[2]

The Supreme Court is the highest court in the country and is the final court of appeal. It has the inherent power to review all judicial acts and has the original jurisdiction to the exclusion of all other courts over the interpretation of constitutional provisions.

The National Court

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The National Court is the second superior court in PNG. It has unlimited jurisdiction to hear and decide on any criminal and civil matters. It also has the power to enforce the constitution. It has the power to hear appeals from the district court, and deals with matters on monetary amounts of above K10, 000. 00.

Both the National Court and the Supreme Court are courts of records.

The District Court

The District Court is the first court under the inferior courts. The District court has territorial jurisdictions, which means its jurisdiction is limited only to the district it is in. The District Court can try summary offenses and some indictable offenses. In an indictable offense, the District Court only does committal proceedings, and if there is enough evidence, the case shall be referred to the National Court. The District court can determine cases with the monetary amount of up to K10, 000. 00.

The Village Court

The village courts jurisdiction is limited only to the village it is established in. The village courts basically settles the disputes arising in the village and enforces the local level government rules. The village court may generally impose a fine of a sum not exceeding K200. 00

Both the District Court and the Village Courts are not courts of records.

4. Discuss the fiduciary relationship that lawyers have with their clients.

A relationship between a lawyer and his client is described as uberrima fides, which means of the utmost faith. The relationship must have the most abundant good faith, absolute and perfect or openness and honesty[3].

A lawyer owes his client the highest of good faith, and the must treat their client in a way that the client may have the highest trust on him. Lawyers must place the interest of his client before his own, and must conduct him in that manner, that will have the client to rationally feel free to rely on the advice given.

A lawyer has a duty of confidentiality and a duty of loyalty, which means a lawyer must preserve and maintain confidential information about their clients and must at all cost protect it, and must as soon as possible disclose any relevant new information to his client.

All in all, the fiduciary relationship between a lawyer and his client is very important as it can have a direct effect on the case itself.

By: Mek Hepela Kamongmenan


[2] S155 (3) of the constitution lays down the courts established under the national judicial system.

[3] www.michealseanquinn/fudiciaryduties

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