CHAPTER 8. JUSTICE
47. THE JUDICIARY
- The administration of justice is vested in the judiciary, who are subject only to the Constitution and the law. The function of the judiciary is to resolve proceedings according to law. If there is no rule of law applicable to a matter before it, a court shall determine the matter according to substantial justice and whenever possible in conformity with custom.
- Except for the Chief Justice the judiciary shall be appointed by the President of the Republic acting on the advice of the Judicial Service Commission.
- All members of the judiciary shall hold office until they reach the age of retirement. They shall only be removed from office by the President of the Republic in the event of-
- conviction and sentence on a criminal charge; or
- a determination by the Judicial Service Commission of gross misconduct, incapacity or professional incompetence.
- The promotion and transfer of members of the judiciary may only be made by the President of the Republic on the advice of the Judicial Service Commission.
- Parliament may provide for the appointment by the President of the Republic, after consultation with the Judicial Service Commission, of acting judges for such periods as may be set out in their instruments of appointment.
- Subarticle (3) so far as it relates to the removal from office shall apply to acting judges.
48. THE JUDICIAL SERVICE COMMISSION
- The Judicial Service Commission shall consist of the Minister responsible for justice, as Chairman, the Chief Justice, the Chairman of the Public Service Commission, and a representative of the Malvatumauri Council of Chiefs appointed by the Council.
- The Judicial Service Commission shall not be subject to the direction or control of any other person or body in the exercise of its functions.
49. THE SUPREME COURT, THE CHIEF JUSTICE AND OTHER JUDGES
- The Supreme Court has unlimited jurisdiction to hear and determine any civil or criminal proceedings, and such other jurisdiction and powers as may be conferred on it by the Constitution or by law.
- The Supreme Court shall consist of a Chief Justice and not more than twelve other judges.
- The Chief Justice shall be appointed by the President of the Republic after consultation with the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition.
- A person shall not be qualified for appointment as Chief Justice or other judge of the Supreme Court unless he is qualified to practise as a lawyer in Vanuatu.
50. APPEALS FROM SUPREME COURT TO COURT OF APPEAL
Parliament shall provide for appeals from the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and may provide for appeals from such appellate jurisdiction as it may have to a Court of Appeal which shall be constituted by two or more judges of the Supreme Court sitting together.
51. ASCERTAINMENT OF RULES OF CUSTOM
- Parliament may provide for the manner of the ascertainment of relevant rules of custom except for the rules of custom relating to ownership of custom land, and may in particular provide for persons knowledgeable in such custom to sit with the judges of the Supreme Court or the Court of Appeal and take part in its proceedings.
- Subarticle (1) does not apply to any matter being referred to a Court before the commencement of this amendment.
52. VILLAGE AND ISLAND COURTS
Parliament shall provide for the establishment of village or island courts with jurisdiction over customary and other matters and shall provide for the role of chiefs in such courts.
53. APPLICATION TO SUPREME COURT REGARDING INFRINGEMENTS OF CONSTITUTION
- Anyone who considers that a provision of the Constitution has been infringed in relation to him may, without prejudice to any other legal remedy available to him, apply to the Supreme Court for redress.
- The Supreme Court has jurisdiction to determine the matter and to make such order as it considers appropriate to enforce the provisions of the Constitution.
- When a question concerning the interpretation of the Constitution arises before a subordinate court, and the court considers that the question concerns a fundamental point of law, the court shall submit the question to the Supreme Court for its determination.
54. ELECTION DISPUTES
The jurisdiction to hear and determine any question as to whether a person has been validly elected as a member of Parliament, the Malvatumauri Council of Chiefs, and a Provincial Government Council or whether he has vacated his seat or has become disqualified to hold it shall vest in the Supreme Court.
55. PUBLIC PROSECUTOR
The function of prosecution shall vest in the Public prosecutor, who shall be appointed by the President of the Republic on the advice of the Judicial Service Commission. He shall not be subject to the direction or control of any other person or body in the exercise of his functions.
56. PUBLIC SOLICITOR
Parliament shall provide for the office of the Public Solicitor, appointed by the President of the Republic on the advice of the Judicial Service Commission, whose function shall be to provide legal assistance to needy persons.