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TOPIC

5

MODERN COURT STRUCTURE IN USP COUNTRIES

Topic 5: Concept Map

Topic 5: Modern Court Structure in USP Countries

5.2

Topic Overview
In the previous topic 4, we examined the concept of ‘court structures’ and identified the three basic tiers of courts, namely, ‘appellate’, ‘superior’ and ‘subordinate courts’. We explained that the courts in any legal system basically fall within these categories or within the other category that we called ‘special’ courts. We explained these courts with reference to current courts in Pacific Island countries. We also outlined the colonial history in the Pacific Islands and examined the structure of courts that were set up by the five major colonial powers in countries of the Pacific region during the colonial period. In this topic, we expand our study of the court systems of Pacific countries by focusing on the structure of courts in the current, i.e. post-dependency period. The approach in doing so is to take each country that is a member of the University of the South Pacific and discuss its current courts. In doing so, we will note any changes that have been made to the courts in the period since each became independent or self-governing. The court systems of two other Pacific Island countries, Federated States of Micronesia and Papua New Guinea, will be discussed in topic 7.

Topic 5: Modern Court Structure in USP Countries

5.3

Topic Outline
1) Introduction 2) Present Court Structures in USP Countries 2. 1 - Cook Islands 2. 2 - Fiji Islands 2. 3 - Kiribati 2. 4 - Marshall Islands 2. 5 - Nauru 2. 6 - Niue 2. 7 - Samoa 2. 8 - Solomon Islands 2. 9 - Tonga 2.10 - Tuvalu 2.11 - Vanuatu 3) Summary of Court Structures 4) Exercises

Learning Outcomes
By the time you have completed this topic you should be able to: Identify the “appellate”, “superior”, “subordinate” and “special” courts of countries in the USP region; Identify the relevant provisions of Constitutions and other laws which establish or provide for the continuation of these courts in countries of the USP region; Identify and highlight any changes that have been made to individual courts or court structures in USP countries since the dependency period; Explain where the decisions of the current courts are reported; Discuss those quasi-judicial tribunals whose functioning is tied to the court system; and Identify the individual courts that make up your country’s judicial system; Appreciate the respective importance of each court within the hierarchy of country’s courts system; Explain the relationship between these different courts; and Demonstrate abaility to find the cases that are decided by your country’s higher courts.

Topic 5: Modern Court Structure in USP Countries

5.4

Checklist of Activities
To complete this topic you must: To complete this topic you must: 1. Read these online Topic 5 Lecture Notes 2. Read the extra readings for this topic: 2.1. Any article(s) in your prescribed textbooks which cover the current structure of courts of your country; 2.2. Excerpts from various current statutes, including Constitutions and legislation, as listed and referred to in these notes; 3. Complete the two study tasks at the end of these notes; and Attempt the Review Questions at the end of these notes to test your comprehension of the materials in this topic

Topic 5: Modern Court Structure in USP Countries

5.5

Introduction
1.01 Courts of the colonial era: We know from topic 4 that the court systems that were set up in Pacific Island countries (PICs) during the dependency period were done in an evolutionary and ad hoc manner meaning that individual courts were set up or removed as the need arose. This meant that the courts that were established in each dependency were originally very few in number; most dependencies did not have a complete court system during that period and so most of them used courts of foreign countries to hear especially appeal cases. In spite of these...
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