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Kiribati Courts System Information

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Pacific Courts - Kiribati



        Has jurisdiction to hear appeals from any High Court decision involving the interpretation of the Constitution where application to the High Court was made on the basis of contravention of the rights of any Banaban or of the Rabi Council under Chapter III or IX of the Constitution.


        Has jurisdiction to hear civil and criminal appeals as of right from any High Court decision on a question of law

        Has jurisdiction to hear civil appeals with leave:

        where an order was made by consent or is as to costs only;

        where the order or judgment is interlocutory, except in a case:

(a) where the liberty of the subject or custody of infants is concerned;

(b) where an injunction or appointment of a receiver is granted or refused; or

(c) where a decree nisi in a matrimonial cause or a judgment or order in an Admiralty action is involved.

        Has no jurisdiction to hear appeals 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; and

        an order absolute for the dissolution or nullity of marriage, where the opportunity to appeal against the decree nisi has not been taken.

        Has jurisdiction to hear appeals from the High Court exercising appellate jurisdiction in land matters.

        Can hear criminal appeals from the High Court in the following circumstances:

        with the leave of the Court of Appeal;

        with the leave of the Court of Appeal against the sentence passed unless it is one that is fixed by law.

        Can hear 'further criminal appeals' on any ground involving only a question of law (excluding the severity of the sentence).


        Appears to have unlimited original jurisdiction in civil and criminal cases.

        Appeals lie to the High Court as of right from decisions of the Magistrate's Court:

        in the exercise of its jurisdiction in divorce;

        in any claim in which the amount involved exceeds $20; and

        in land cases.

        Empowered to determine disputes as to the validity of election of any member of the Maneaba ni Maungatabu and as to vacation of seats.

        Part IX of the Criminal Procedure Code provides for appeals by way of petition from the magistrate's courts to the High Court. Also, cases may be referred to the High Court by way of case stated.


        Have jurisdiction within the limits of the district within which they are situated.

        May determine:

        petitions for divorce under the Native Divorce Ordinance; and

        claims in contract and tort where the amount involved does not exceed $3,000.

        May grant injunctions to preserve the status quo.

        Have jurisdiction to deal with all land matters, but only if it is constituted under s 7(4).

        Have criminal jurisdiction in relation to 'causes and matters' set out in Schedule 2 of the Magistrates' Court Act. The schedule stipulates that the magistrates' courts have jurisdiction over proceedings conducted in relation to any offence carrying a maximum punishment of a fine of $500 or five years' imprisonment. In addition, these courts have jurisdiction in relation to specified offences contained in the Penal Code.

        The following sentences may be passed by the magistrates' courts:

        imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years; or

        a fine not exceeding $500; or

        both the above sentences; or

        any lawfully authorised sentence or order.

        The Chief Justice may authorise an increase in jurisdiction in civil cases.


* For more information on the court system in Kiribati see Jennifer Corrin-Care, Tess Newton and Don Paterson Introduction to South Pacific Law (Cavendish Publishing Ltd, London, 1999) 289-293. 

© 2001 University of the South Pacific

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