Joint Statement of the Supreme and National Courts of Papua New Guinea and the Federal Court of Australia

08 December 2021


The Federal Court of Australia provides support to the Papua New Guinea judiciary through a long-standing partnership in a Court to Court Memorandum of Understanding between the Federal Court of Australia and the Supreme and National Courts of Papua New Guinea, first entered into in 2009. This partnership remains strong, and Chief Justice Salika of the Supreme and National Courts of Papua New Guinea continues to be satisfied with the support provided through the partnership.

Following the untimely deaths of four resident Judges of the Supreme and National Courts during 2021, Chief Justice James Allsop of the Federal Court of Australia has offered two judges of that Court who already have appointments to the Papua New Guinea Courts to undertake extended periods of duty in Papua New Guinea during 2022 beyond the period contemplated by the MoU.

Justices Berna Collier and John Logan of the Federal Court of Australia first took up appointments in Papua New Guinea in 2011, in response to a request by Papua New Guinea’s then Chief Justice, Sir Salamo Injia, for judges of the Federal Court of Australia to sit periodically in Papua New Guinea’s appellate court, the Supreme Court. The deployment was to meet an area of need identified by the Chief Justice in relation to commercial and civil appeals.

Until prevented last year by international travel restrictions, the two judges each visited Papua New Guinea three and sometimes four weeks per year thereafter so that one was in attendance at each sitting of the Supreme Court at Port Moresby. The deployment has always been viewed by both Courts as one requiring the deployment only of superior court judges experienced in the exercise of appellate jurisdiction, which is why Papua New Guinea’s initial request was directed to the Federal Court of Australia.

During the period when international travel restrictions have been in force due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Justices Collier and Logan have continued to assist in the disposal of the Supreme Court’s appellate business by the hearing and determination of appeals on the papers, a practice adopted by the PNG Supreme Court during the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the same time as a number of PNG resident judges, Justices Collier and Logan were recently reappointed for a further three year term as members of the PNG judiciary. The two judges have, notwithstanding the continuing effects of the pandemic, each volunteered to return at the earliest opportunity in 2022. As a result, it is proposed that Justice Logan will serve in PNG for a month over February/March 2022, and that Justice Collier will serve for a month over May/June 2022.

The two judges have, over the last decade, organised and participated in various judicial and legal education activities for the PNG judiciary and legal profession, making additional visits to PNG for these purposes.

The operation of the MoU has always been with the knowledge and approval of the executive governments of both countries.

The two Chief Justices will consult early in the 2022 law year about the duty to be undertaken in the Supreme Court by the two judges during the second half of the year, based on an assessment by Chief Justice Salika of appellate caseload demands in the Supreme Court.

 

Chief Justice Sir Gibuma Gibbs Salika GCL KBE CSM OBE of the Supreme and National Courts of Papua New Guinea

Chief Justice James Allsop AO of the Federal Court of Australia