Judiciary of Solomon Islands

The judiciary of Solomon Islands is a branch of the Government of Solomon Islands that interprets and applies the laws of Solomon Islands, to ensure equal justice under law, and to provide a mechanism for dispute resolution. The legal system is derived from chapter VII, part II of the Constitution, adopted when the country became independent from the United Kingdom in 1978. The Constitution provided for the creation of a High Court, with original jurisdiction in civil and criminal cases, and a Court of Appeal. It also provided for the possibility of "subordinate courts", with no further specification (art.84).[1]

The court system is under the responsibility of the Minister for Justice and Legal Affairs,[2] who as of June 2013 is Commins Mewa.[3]

Prior to the beginning of the international Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) in 2003, designed to restore peace and order in the country and reinforce its institutions, the "justice system was barely functioning, with courts rarely sitting and those awaiting trial often waiting more than two years for their case to be heard".[4] The judiciary was strengthened over the following years, and as of 2013 RAMSI maintains "19 long-term advisers supporting the Solomon Islands judicial system".[4]

Like that of most Pacific island countries, Solomon Islands' court system relies partly on foreign judges, from other common law countries. Thus, the judges of the Court of Appeal "include senior judges from Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea".[2] Foreign judges are also found in the High Court.[5]

The court system at present is structured as follows.[6]