Classification of PNG Laws-By PNG CLRC


The PNG Constitution and Law Reform Commission (CLRC)  ran a newspapers column as part of it’s general public law awareness initiatives called Know Your Law. In one of it’s articles it describes the various categories of laws a in Papua New Guineas as follows.

1. Customary and introduced Laws

  • Customary law or Custom which is indigenous to our traditional societies, are part of the laws of Papua New Guinea and can be applied in the Courts.
  • Introduced Laws are foreign laws adopted from Australia and England at Independence in 1975.

2. Civil Law and Criminal Law

  • Civil Law and deals with behavior that causes injury to an individual or other private party, such as a corporation. It is concerned with the rights and duties of individuals towards each other. In Civil Law cases, punishment always consists of  monetary award as opposed to imprisonment.
  • Criminal Law deals with behavior that can be recognized as a crime against the public, society, or the State-even if immediate victim is a person. Criminal law, looks after the public interest. It involves punishing and rehabilitating offenders, and protecting the society.

3. Public and Private Law

Public laws control the organization and functioning of the state and also determines the relationship of the state and its subjects. Public Law includes;

Constitutional Law

Constitutional Law describes the nature of the state and the structure and function of the three organs of the state. It is supreme from the general laws of the land. Ordinary law derives its value from the constitutional law.

Administrative Law

Administrative Law gives permission for the creation of public administrative agencies and the purpose is to implement their powers and duties in the form of rules, regulations, orders and decisions.

Criminal Law

As defined above.

Private Law.

Private Law is the branch of law that deals with the rights and obligations of individuals, families, businesses and small groups, and exists to assist citizens in disputes involving private matters.

Private Law  involves;

  • Law of Contract which is a branch of law which determines whether a promise is legally enforceable and what its legal consequences.
  • Law of Tort deals with civil wrongs as opposed to criminal acts that result in personal injury, injury to reputation, and injury to property.
  • Law of Property is the part of law which determines the nature and extend of the rights which people may enjoy over land and other property.
  • Law of Succession determines the devolution of property on the death of the former owner.
  • Family Law defines the rights, duties, and status of husband and wife, parent and child, and other members of a household.

4: National and International Law

National law, also known as Domestic or Municipal law refers to laws that govern the internal affairs of a nation and are applicable or operate within the boundary of that nation. It comprises of:

  • Public Law
  • Private Law

International law is a set of rules which are morally binding between countries and aims to ensure security and peace among various nations. International law involves:

  • Customary International law
  • Treaty law
  • Public International Law
  • Private International Law

5: Substantive Law and Procedural Law

  • Substantive law refers to the body of rules of a matter that determines or regulates the original rights, obligations and liabilities of individuals and collective bodies including the Government or the State.
  • Procedural law defines or establishes the rules or different processes through which a substantiate law may be created, enforced and applied. It specifies processes for a case to proceed in or court or processes that are in place to achieve an outcome.

PNG CLRC Contact Information

For  more law related information in Papua New Guinea, visit the CLRC;s website and Facebook page.