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Tuvalu Courts System Information
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Pacific Courts - Tuvalu
THE PRIVY COUNCIL
· Has jurisdiction to hear appeals from the decisions of the Court of Appeal with leave of the Court of Appeal, in the following matters:
· cases referred to in s 136(1) (a) of the Constitution, being:
(a) a final decision on a question as to interpretation or application of the Constitution;
(b) a final decision in proceedings for the enforcement of the fundamental rights provisions in Part II of he Constitution;
(c) a final or interlocutory decision in any case which the Court of Appeal considers to involve a question of great general or public importance or which ought to be submitted to the Privy Council.
· any civil case involving $2,000 or more; or
· proceedings for dissolution or nullity of marriage.
THE COURT OF APPEAL
· Has jurisdiction to hear civil appeals as of right from the High Court exercising any type of jurisdiction, except:
· where an order was made by consent or is as to costs only;
· where an order or judgment is interlocutory, except in a case prescribed by rules of court;
in which case, leave is required.
· No civil appeal is allowed from:
· a decision allowing an extension of time in which to appeal;
· an order giving unconditional leave to defend an action;
· a decision of the High Court which is provided by statute to be final.
· All criminal appeals lie as of right from decisions of the High Court to the Court of Appeal.
THE HIGH COURT
· Has unlimited original jurisdiction in civil and criminal cases.
· Has jurisdiction to hear appeals as of right from all decisions of the senior magistrate’s court, other than orders made ex parte, by consent, or as to costs only. In those instances special leave of the first instance or appellate court is required.
· Has jurisdiction to hear appeals from the senior magistrate’s court exercising appellate jurisdiction includes decisions on appeal from the native land appeal panel.
· May decide a question of law referred to it by way of case stated from the senior magistrate’s court.
· Has a supervisory jurisdiction over inferior courts.
· Have jurisdiction to hear civil cases involving up to $10,000.
· A senior magistrate may make adoption orders and has jurisdiction to hear appeals from any other magistrates’ court as of right in all civil and criminal matters, other than orders made ex parte, by consent, or as to costs only. In those instances special leave of the first instance or appellate court is required.
· A senior magistrate’s court also has jurisdiction to hear appeals from the native land appeal panel. The senior magistrate’s court may decide a question of law referred to it by way of case stated by a magistrate.
· May hear appeals from island courts exercising divorce jurisdiction or jurisdiction in any civil matter where the amount involved exceeds $10.
· Have power to review any civil or criminal island court case, either on the petition of a party or of its own motion.
The criminal jurisdiction of the senior magistrate’s court differs from that of the other magistrates' courts. All magistrates' courts have summary jurisdiction only.
· The senior magistrate’s court may hear cases in the following circumstances:
· where the offence is one for which the maximum punishment does not exceed 14 years' imprisonment, a fine or 'both such imprisonment and such fine';
· where jurisdiction has been expressly conferred upon the court or there has been express provision that the offence in question is one that may be tried summarily.
· The maximum punishment that may be imposed by the senior magistrate’s court is a term of imprisonment for five years, a fine of $1,000 or 'both such imprisonment and such fine'.
· Other magistrates' courts have a more limited jurisdiction. They may hear cases in the following circumstances:
· where the offence is one for which the maximum punishment does not exceed imprisonment for more than one year, a fine of $200 or both;
· where jurisdiction has been expressly conferred on the court or there has been express provision that the offence in question may be tried summarily.
· The magistrate's courts exercise an appellate jurisdiction with regard to decisions of the island courts of the district within which the magistrates' court is situated.
· Have jurisdiction within the boundaries of the island on which they are established and over inland and adjacent waters. Within that area they have summary jurisdiction to deal with the following civil matters:
· petitions for divorce or associated proceedings under the Native Divorce Ordinance provided both parties are domiciled in Tuvalu;
· claims in contract and tort where the amount involved does not exceed $60;
· applications for maintenance under the Maintenance (Miscellaneous Provisions) Ordinance; and
· applications under the Custody of Children Ordinance.
· Criminal causes that come within the criminal jurisdiction of the island courts are set out in Schedule 2 of the Island Courts Act. In addition, the court may hear cases in relation to offences, the maximum punishment for which is a fine of $100 and/or a period of imprisonment of six months.