Island Court

Under the Island Courts Act Cap 167 which was legislated in 1983, the power to establish an Island Court with its powers is vested in the Chief Justice. 

The Chief Justice by warrant under his hand established throughout Vanuatu the following Island Courts which exercise limited powers on civil and criminal jurisdiction.

  1. Erromango Island Court
  2. Efate Island Court
  3. Tongoa/Shepherds Island Court
  4. Epi Island Court
  5. Ambrym Island Court
  6. Malekula Island Court
  7. Pentecost Island Court
  8. Ambae Island Court
  9. Santo/Malo Island Court
  10. Banks/Torres Island Court
  11. Tanna Island Court

The Chief Justice may at any time suspend, cancel or vary any warrant establishing an island court or defining the jurisdiction of any such court or the limits within which such jurisdiction may be exercised.

Civil Jurisdiction 

  1. Civil jurisdiction of an island court extends to the hearing, trial and determination of all civil matters in which the defendant is ordinarily resident within the territorial jurisdiction of the court or within which the cause of action arose.
  2. An Island Court shall administer customary law prevailing within the territorial jurisdiction of the court so far as the same is not in conflict with any written law and is not contrary to justice, morality and good order.
  3. An island court has no jurisdiction to hear and determine civil proceedings relating to land.

Criminal Jurisdiction 

The criminal jurisdiction of an island court shall extend, subject to the provisions of this Act, to the hearing, trial and determination of all criminal charges and matters in which any person is accused of having wholly or in part within the territorial jurisdiction of the court, committed or participated in the commission of the offence.

Composition of Island Court

The President of the Republic acting in accordance with the advice of the Judicial.

Service Commission appointed justices knowledgeable in custom for each island court.

  1. A person may be appointed a justice for more than 1 island court.
  2.  A justice shall be paid such allowances as the Chief Justice may determine.
  3. An island court is properly constituted when three justices nominated by the clerk are sitting.