The activities of the Judiciary of the Republic of Vanuatu are governed by the Judicial Services and Courts Act.
The Supreme Court has unlimited jurisdiction to hear and determine civil and criminal proceedings. It has jurisdiction to hear questions concerning elections and similar matters; and it has jurisdiction to hear any grievances from citizens about emergency regulations made by the Council of Ministers. The Supreme Court has jurisdiction to hear civil and criminal appeals from a Magistrate’s Court and to hear appeals from Island Courts as to ownership of customary land. Its decision in such cases is final.
The Supreme Court consists of the Chief Justice and Justices appointed on local terms and conditions. One Justice is seconded by the New Zealand District Court to the Supreme Court of Vanuatu for a period of 2 years. Different Judges of the New Zealand District Court have served on this scheme since 2004.
In 2016, the Supreme Court was further supported by assistance from the Commonwealth Secretariat for the recruitment of one Judge and one Master of the Supreme Court, taking the number of Judges to 7 and one Master of the Supreme Court. However, both the Judge and the Master has since then been recruited on local terms and conditions when their support by the Commonwealth Secretariat lapsed.