The legal system is based on English common law. The Supreme Court is the nation's highest judicial authority and final court of appeal. Other courts are the National Court; district courts, which deal with summary and non-indictable offenses; and local courts, established to deal with minor offenses, including matters regulated by local customs.
The Papua New Guinea government has undertaken a process of legal reform under which village courts have been established to conserve and reactivate traditional legal methods. Special tribunals deal with land titles and with cases involving minors. An Ombudsman Commission has been established to investigate and refer to the public prosecutor cases involving abuse of official authority.
The constitution declares the judiciary independent of executive, political, or military authority. It also provides a number of procedural due process protections including the right to legal counsel for criminal defendants. The chief justice of the supreme court is appointed by the governor-general upon nomination by the national executive council in consultation with the minister for justice. The Judicial and Legal Services Commission appoint other judges.