Office of the Chief Magistrate

The Office of the Chief Magistrate is established by Section 175(1) of the Constitution. The Chief Magistrate is appointed by the Judicial and Legal Services Commission for a fixed term of 6 years and is eligible for renewal so long as he or she is not over the age of 60 years.

The Chief Magistrate is an ex officio member of all other courts other than village courts and has all the powers, functions and jurisdiction of the highest grades. In the performances of his functions under Section 173(3) of the Constitution, the Chief Magistrate shall carry out any directions or instructions of the Judicial and Legal Services Commission. The power of the Chief Magistrate is stipulated under Section 2 of the Magisterial Services Act as follows:

  1. Is responsible to the Commission for the efficient functioning and operation of the service
  2. Have such powers, functions, duties and responsibilities in relation to the services including disciplinary powers over magistrates
  3. Shall carry out any direction or instruction by the Commission in relation to the service
  4. Is responsible for the posting of magistrates
  5. Is responsible for the allocation of duties as between magistrates posted to the same place and
  6. As directed by the Commission, shall submit to the Commission reports on the service and on individual magistrates.

The Chief Magistrate is assisted by two Deputy Chief Magistrates based with him at the Port Moresby Head Quarters and Senior Provincial Magistrates located in each provincial locations.

Deputy Chief Magistrates

The Magisterial Service Act provides for the appointment of two Deputy Chief Magistrates.
The Deputy Chief Magistrates assists the Chief Magistrate in the performance of his/her administrative duties. The Commission is also responsible for the appointment of the Deputy Chief Magistrates. Only serving Grade V (principal magistrate) may be eligible for the appointment as Deputy Chief Magistrates. The Deputy Chief Magistrates are also judicial officers and perform judicial functions apart from administrative functions in support of the Chief Magistrate.

Senior Provincial Magistrate

The Chief Magistrate is empowered among other duties by the Magisterial Service Act to allocate duties to magistrates posted in any location. In every provincial centre/town there are Senior Provincial magistrate (SPM) appointed by the Chief Magistrate for administrative purposes. The senior provincial magistrate is a delegate of the Chief Magistrate in each respective province in this regard. The SPM may be from any category of magistrates. The Chief Magistrate must only be satisfied that the appointee displays a high degree of management and leadership capabilities to appoint a magistrate as SPM.


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