The Constitution provides that the national judicial system consists of the Supreme Court, the National Court and other courts established by Acts of Parliament.
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The Supreme Court is the ultimate appeal court in PNG. It has original jurisdiction in matters of constitutional interpretation and enforcement. It also has appellate jurisdiction in appeals from the National Court, certain decisions of the Land Titles Commission and those of other regulatory entities as prescribed in their own Acts.
The Supreme Court is convened as a bench of at least three National Court judges.
The National Court also has original jurisdiction for certain constitutional matters and has unlimited original jurisdiction for criminal and civil matters.
The National Court has jurisdiction under the Land Act in proceedings involving land in PNG, other than customary land. The National Court also has jurisdiction in appeals from Local and District Courts and from certain administrative tribunals.
The District Courts generally have jurisdiction for some criminal matters, and civil matters up to K10,000. The District Courts are constituted by one or more Magistrates.
In addition to the courts mentioned above, there is also a system of Village Courts established under the Constitution and the Village Courts Act. Matters involving customary law claims are likely to arise at the Village Court level. However, as the Constitution adopts custom as part of the underlying law, there is no reason why customary law arguments cannot be raised in the appropriate circumstances in other courts in PNG.
There is no jury system in PNG.
Lawyers operating in PNG are governed by a number of Acts of Parliament. The PNG Law Society is the profession’s regulator and only lawyers registered with the Law Society and admitted to practice
in the National Court of PNG are allowed to practice as lawyers in PNG.