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Papua New Guinea - Magistrates' Manual

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Part 1 - Judicial Independence, the Legal System, Conduct of Court Matters and Court Hearings



A judicial system plays a vital role in any society founded upon the rule of law. Without an effective judicial system, a society would quickly deteriorate into a state of chaos or repression.

In a society such as Papua New Guinea, which is founded on principles of individual rights, democracy and the rule of law, a judicial system must be independent. The independence of the courts in Papua New Guinea finds its source in s 157 of the Constitution:

<Legislation Quotation>

“Except to the extent that this Constitution specifically provides otherwise, neither the Minister responsible for the National Justice Administration nor any other person or authority (other than the Parliament through legislation) outside the National Judicial System has any power to give directions to any court, or to a member of any court, within that System in respect of the exercise if judicial powers or functions.”

<End Legislation Quotation>

The effect of s 157 is that the duties of Magistrates may only be directed by legislation or by the lawful directions of their superiors within the judicial system. The needs, preferences or directions of anyone else (apart from proper considerations relating to the parties in a matter before the court), regardless of their position in society, cannot influence a Magistrate in the discharge of his or her duties.

1.1.1 Judicial declaration

This limit of external influence and control of the judicial system requires a greater amount of internal control and self-regulation. Members of the judiciary are entrusted with a responsibility that goes beyond that of an ordinary citizen or employee. This responsibility is reflected in the solemn declaration taken by each Magistrate and Judge upon appointment. The words of this declaration are set out in Sch 4 of the Constitution. They are significant.

<Legislation Quotation>

“I ___________, do promise and declare that I will well and truly serve the Independent State of Papua New Guinea and its people in the office of ___________, that I will in all things uphold the Constitution and the laws of the Independent State of Papua New Guinea, and I will do right to all manner of people in accordance therewith, without fear or favour, affection or ill-will.”

<End Legislation Quotation>

The words of the declaration serve more than just a symbolic purpose. In a condensed way they reflect the independence of the judiciary, the role of each Magistrate in preserving and maintaining this independence and a fundamental requirement of natural justice. It is useful to consider some of the words of the declaration separately:

“All manner of people” means everyone who comes before the court. Everyone is entitled to be treated with equal care and concern. Nobody is above or below the law regardless of his or her status in society, gender, race, place of origin or tribe.

“Without fear” means that no threat, either express or implied, can influence the way a Magistrate hears or decides a case.

“Without favour” means that a Magistrate is not amenable to any express or implied benefit from a member of the public in return for taking certain interests into account in hearing or deciding a case.

“Without affection” means that a Magistrate will not allow any personal preference that favours a person or group to influence the way a case is heard or decided.

“Without ill will” means that a Magistrate will not allow any personal bias against a person or group to influence the way a case is heard or decided.

The words of the declaration require not only that a Magistrate be independent of outside influences, but also that his or her professional duties be discharged in a way that is independent of pre-existing personal feelings or beliefs, for or against a cause, that would affect the outcome of any judgment.


It is not sufficient for a judicial system to be independent. People must have the perception that the judicial system is independent and have confidence in the integrity of those who work within the system. This requires a standard of conduct of Magistrates that ensures that a member of the public (whether a party before the court or not) will not have a reasonable suspicion that a Magistrate’s independence is compromised in any way. Ensuring that this public perception is maintained requires constant vigilance on the part of a Magistrate in both personal and professional life.

There is a Code of Conduct for Magistrates in Papua New Guinea. This Code of Conduct is a guide to Magistrates in the conduct of both their professional and personal lives. The code has been reduced to five basic rules. Most of these rules can be traced back to the words of the judicial declaration of office.

·         Rule 1: A Magistrate shall uphold the integrity and independence of the Judiciary.

·         Rule 2: A Magistrate shall avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all the Magistrate’s activities.

·         Rule 3: A Magistrate shall perform the duties of a judicial officer impartially and diligently.

·         Rule 4: A Magistrate shall so conduct the Magistrate’s extra-judicial activities as to minimise the risk of conflict with judicial obligations.

·         Rule 5: A Magistrate or judicial candidate shall refrain from inappropriate political activity.


This is a general rule. It relates to the ongoing personal commitment that a Magistrate must have to a high standard of ethical and professional conduct. This commitment is just as important to the discharge of duties as is a technical knowledge of the law.

Magistrates must recognise that public confidence rests on the conduct of each Magistrate, and must have the personal commitment to upholding public confidence through the ethical and independent discharge of judicial duties. Rules 2-5 elaborate on the requirements of this commitment.


Magistrates must accept the fact that they are exposed to close public scrutiny both in their professional and personal lives. Because of this, a Magistrate must accept restrictions on his or her conduct which might not apply to ordinary citizens.

For example, an ordinary citizen (for instance a nurse, PMV driver, pilot or village farmer) would not be likely to attract criticism for associating with persons who have a questionable reputation or who have served a criminal sentence. Similarly, an ordinary citizen would be unlikely to attract criticism for associating with a politician. The ability of people to perform their jobs is not usually judged by the people they associate with away from their jobs. Even if such an association did attract criticism, an ordinary citizen would be entitled to take the view that it is the criticism that is unwarranted, not the association. A Magistrate does not have the luxury of acting on this basis. No-one would dispute that a Magistrate has a legal right to make such an association. However, a Magistrate should forgo such a legal right if it would generate negative public perception about the Magistrate’s integrity as a member of the judiciary.

Similarly, an ordinary citizen might not be judged adversely for minor infringements of laws or regulations. For example, if an ordinary citizen forgets to have his or her motor vehicle registration renewed and inadvertently drives for a few days after the expired date, no-one is likely to make an adverse judgment about the person or the person’s ability to perform his or her duties. Any busy person might forget to renew a vehicle registration on time. A Magistrate on the other hand must be aware that adverse judgments could readily be made against the Magistrate’s professional abilities in exactly these circumstances.

A Magistrate must be careful to separate his or her personal affairs from the professional office he or she holds. Judicial office must never be used to gain advantage, either directly or indirectly for a Magistrate or anyone else. For instance, judicial letterhead must never be used in personal correspondence. A Magistrate must maintain a completely “hands off” relationship with any court proceedings or pending proceedings that affect his or her own interests or the interests of a family member or friend.

Section 55 of the Constitution provides that all persons have the same rights regardless of “race, tribe, place of origin, political opinion, colour, creed, religion or sex.” A Magistrate must be careful to avoid any associations with people or groups that discriminate on any of these grounds. Support for, or even indirect association with, such an organisation by a Magistrate could create negative perceptions in the minds or members of the public about a Magistrate’s ability to uphold s 55 of the Constitution in court.

This restriction is not absolute and the Magistrate’s own judgment is required to determine how far it extends in particular circumstances. For instance, it does not prevent a Magistrate from belonging to a particular church. Nor would it be improper for a Magistrate to belong to an organisation that is dedicated to the preservation of religious, ethnic or cultural values of legitimate common interest to its members.


This rule is directed at the manner in which a Magistrate behaves in the discharge of his or her professional duties. It affects a Magistrate’s dealings with superiors, persons appearing in court (parties, counsel and witnesses) and with members of the courthouse staff.

Diligence requires a continuing effort. Despite a sometimes onerous caseload, a Magistrate must not refuse to hear a case that is assigned unless there is a legitimate reason to disqualify oneself.

A Magistrate must remain competent and up to date in the law. Although not all Magistrates have access to a complete law library, every Magistrate should make full use of the library materials that are available.

1.5.1 Maintaining a professional bearing

In court, a Magistrate must display patience and courtesy. Court proceedings are stressful to parties and others, especially those without any previous experience. A Magistrate will take this into account and project a sense of calm authority in the courtroom. It must be remembered that non-verbal communications, including facial expressions, can create a perception of bias, impatience, or anger that could bring the judicial system into disrepute.

A Magistrate must maintain civility and decorum in the courtroom and ensure that those appearing in court display these qualities, both towards the court and towards others appearing before the court.

A Magistrate must be alert to the challenges faced by those who are illiterate, without legal representation or dealing with a language barrier.

In an adversarial system of justice, it is not up to the Judge or Magistrate to adduce evidence or examine witnesses: see Chapter 2.9.4. Occasionally counsel, for some reason, conducts an examination in an obviously unsatisfactory way. This may leave the Magistrate with unanswered questions about relevant facts. It is proper for a Magistrate to ask questions in such circumstances in order to clarify the state of the evidence.

Also, when the evidence is complex, such as when an expert is giving opinion evidence, it is frequently necessary for a Magistrate to ask questions.

Ideally, questions from a Magistrate should wait until counsel has finished the examination or cross-examination as the case may be. Sometimes, however, questioning from the Magistrate is required during the course of an examination of a witness.

Too many questions from the bench can distort the proceedings and create an impression that the Magistrate is in fact biased: see Chapter 2.9.4. This issue arose in the case of Birch v The State [1979] PNGLR 75. During the prosecution of that case the Magistrate asked 186 questions compared to 123 which were asked by the prosecutor. The accused appealed his conviction for sexual offences on the basis that “there was undue participation by the Magistrate in the trial of such a nature and extent that justice did not appear to be done.”

The Supreme Court in Birch v The State acknowledged that a court must be careful that it does not interfere in proceedings to an excessive extent. However, it also acknowledged that it can be difficult, especially in cases of alleged sexual offences, to get young female complainants to “come out with their version of the complaint” in court. The court went on to say (at 80):

<Case Quotation>

“In the circumstances of the country it may become necessary … for a Magistrate to hold the balance between the interest of the State in enforcing the law and that of the accused in defending himself against a charge by intervention of a rather more detailed and prolonged nature than would be called for or proper in other more sophisticated settings.”

<End Case Quotation>

A Magistrate has the power to recall witnesses who have already given evidence. This would be done where the interests of justice require. However, just as there is a limit on the degree to which a Magistrate should interfere with the proceedings by asking questions, so too the recalling of witnesses by a Magistrate would not occur on a regular basis. The following remarks were made in Birch v The State (at 85):

<Case Quotation>

“The other matter was the recall of three witnesses by the Magistrate. His Honour had every right to do this … It is permissible. Of course, one has to take care and it is not something done lightly.”

<End Case Quotation>

1.5.2 Ex parte proceedings

A Magistrate must be mindful of the basic rule of fairness (natural justice) that each party shall be given a right to appear in a case in which they have a legal interest: see Chapter 2.6.2. Parties normally should not appear before a Magistrate in the absence of the other party. Each party to a dispute has a right to be present, to be heard and to have a chance to answer the allegations and submissions made against him or her.

Some circumstances may justify the hearing of an application ex parte. For instance, a party in a civil matter may be taken to have chosen not to appear. Some applications by their nature are best made on an ex parte basis. An application for a Mareva injunction is one example. An application for a restraining order under Pt X of the District Courts Act where the applicant is under real physical threat by the respondent is another.

In cases where ex parte proceedings are justified, the party or parties who are not present must be given the first available opportunity to apply to set aside the order made against them. This requires that any order made ex parte includes a provision that it be served on absent parties and that they be entitled to apply to vary or vacate the order. A discussion of ex parte hearings is found in Chapter 14.

1.5.3 Restricting all communications to open court

It is improper for a Magistrate to speak out of court, either publicly or privately, about a pending case. It is improper for a Magistrate to meet with or communicate with parties or witnesses outside of court, unless such communications are part of the court proceedings or have been consented to by the parties. A Magistrate may confer with other Magistrates about a case, unless the other Magistrate is someone who would be disqualified from hearing the case.

An exception to the rule is found in situations where a Magistrate attempts to assist the parties by acting as a mediator: see Chapter 24. However, if mediation is unsuccessful, a Magistrate may be disqualified from presiding at a contested hearing: see District Courts Act, s 22C.

Once a case has been decided and a judgment given, a Magistrate must not elaborate or qualify the decision in any out of court communications. The judgment speaks for itself. Further involvement creates confusion rather than clarity. Pronouncements by a Magistrate, even if made out of court, can be interpreted by parties as an invitation to make further response. This only complicates matters further.

Proper communication of decisions and reasons for decisions is important, but takes place in court, in accordance to specific criteria and constraints: see Chapter 25.

Courthouse staff should be reminded of their duty of confidentiality in relation to all communications with a Magistrate regarding all matters that come before the court. Of course matters heard in open court, unless subject to an order to the contrary, are by their nature public. Nevertheless, staff should be instructed that it is unprofessional to needlessly gossip about what goes on even in open court: see Chapter 4.6. Other employees under the direction of a Magistrate must be instructed to display standards of professional conduct in the discharge of their duties.

1.5.4 Efficient use of time and resources

In conducting court proceedings, a Magistrate must be mindful of the need to use time efficiently. This is not only in the interests of the justice system. It is also in the interests of parties who are often put to great expense and inconvenience to appear and take part in court proceedings. See Chapter 23 for a discussion of efficient case management.

The efficient use of time means that hearings should always begin at the appointed time. Apart from being discourteous, delays in commencing hearings, especially if they are habitual, send messages to members of the public that it is not necessary for them to be punctual. This leads to further waste of court time as well as damaging the image of the justice system.

Efficient use of the court’s time means that cases which require adjournment should, whenever possible, be adjourned to a specific time and place. If witnesses who are present in court will be required, an order should be made that they appear at the next court date. This eliminates the need for parties and registry staff to determine an appropriate court date and go through the trouble of serving parties and witnesses with summonses or notices.

A Magistrate who has supervisory responsibilities over other Magistrates must ensure that court resources are used efficiently by those Magistrates.

1.5.5 Dealing with misconduct of other Magistrates and lawyers

A Magistrate sometimes becomes aware of improper conduct on the part of another Magistrate or on the part of a lawyer appearing before the Magistrate. Where the conduct is repeated or serious, it is improper for a Magistrate to ignore such conduct.

The seriousness of a lawyer’s misconduct might vary from relatively trivial (such as being five minutes late or not providing a copy of a document to other sides) to more serious (such as making a misrepresentation to the court or acting in clear conflict of interest). The response of a Magistrate will depend on the seriousness of the misconduct. A warning in court, a reprimand in chambers (with both sides represented) or a written complaint to the Papua New Guinea Law Society would be appropriate responses in different circumstances: see Chapter 3.4 regarding conduct of lawyers. A Magistrate should report to a senior Magistrate when such a step has been taken or when in doubt about what step is appropriate.

Where a Magistrate becomes aware of serious or repeated misconduct on the part of another Magistrate, it creates a difficult and challenging situation. The Magistrate in question may be a close associate or friend. This can create a conflict of interest. However, the conflict must be resolved in favour of the integrity of the justice system. Depending on the seriousness of the conduct, appropriate responses range from a conversation with the Magistrate in question pointing out the inappropriateness of the conduct to immediately reporting the conduct in writing to the Chief Magistrate.

1.5.6 Disqualification for conflict of interest

Occasionally a matter that comes before a Magistrate creates a conflict of interest. It is important that a Magistrate be quick to recognise a conflict of interest and to take appropriate action. Conflicts of interest can arise in a variety of circumstances. One example is where a Magistrate has a financial interest in the outcome of a case. This includes cases where a close friend or family member of the Magistrate has a financial interest.

Another type of conflict of interest is where a Magistrate’s personal beliefs prevent him or her from being impartial. For instance, a Magistrate might have a strong religious conviction that it is wrong to procure a miscarriage. Perhaps the Magistrate is active in an anti-abortion campaign. In such a circumstance, a Magistrate has a duty to declare the conflict. If this belief would affect the Magistrate’s ability to preside impartially in a case then the Magistrate has a duty to disqualify himself or herself from presiding over the proceedings.

Another example of a conflict occurs where a Magistrate presides at a trial and learns in the course of evidence that a person other than the accused is guilty of an offence. That other person may later be charged, come before the court and plead not guilty. The Magistrate would not be able to preside at the trial of this charge and should disqualify himself or herself.

Conflict of interest is a matter of degree. For instance, if a Magistrate owns a significant share in a company that is a party to a case, it would clearly be a conflict. However, suppose the Magistrate has a routine bank account at the Papua New Guinea Banking Corporation. Presiding over a case in which the Papua New Guinea Banking Corporation is a party would not in ordinary circumstances be a conflict, even though in a remote or theoretical way a Magistrate’s financial interest could possibly be affected.

1.5.7 Disqualification for appearance of conflict

In addition to being alert to actual conflicts and taking steps to deal with them, a Magistrate must also be aware of circumstances that could be perceived by others as constituting a conflict of interest. When this is recognised, a Magistrate must take appropriate steps to deal with it.

Case law has established guidelines for Magistrates in Papua New Guinea in situations where there may be a perception of conflict of interest.

In the case of Boateng v The State [1990] PNGLR 242, the wife of a Magistrate sat in court next to the prosecutrix in a rape trial and spoke to the prosecutrix during adjournments of the case. The Magistrate’s wife did not speak to anyone about these conversations. There was no suggestion that the Magistrate was biased or acted improperly in any way. The Magistrate’s wife had a perfect right to attend court and to speak to whomever she pleased.

The conviction was overturned on appeal on the ground that the Magistrate should have disqualified himself from continuing to hear the case. The Supreme Court said:

<Case Quotation>

“Whether or not a Magistrate’s wife actually influences the outcome of the case is important but is not the case here. The point here is the reaction of a reasonable man or woman knowing the relevant facts that justice might have miscarried because of such association in or in the precincts of the court.”

<End Case Quotation>

The Court adopted the test in R v Liverpool Justices: Ex parte Topping [1983] 1 WLR 119:

<Case Quotation>

“Would a reasonable and fair minded person sitting in a court and knowing all the relevant facts have a ‘reasonable suspicion that a fair trial for the appellant was not possible’?”

<End Case Quotation>

Whether a Magistrate should apply such a test in any given case depends on the circumstances. In Papua New Guinea, wantokism is often regarded as a basis of divided loyalties between people. This may become a factor in court that could cause a reasonable suspicion that a fair trial is not possible. However, the fact that a Magistrate might come from the same part of the country as a party is not of itself a sufficient basis for a Magistrate to become disqualified.

The case of Fidelis Agai v Buckly Yarume [1987] PNGLR 124 provides a guide for Magistrates in dealing with the question of disqualification over possible wantokism.

In that case, the prosecutor and the presiding Magistrate were from the same province. It was alleged on this ground that the Magistrate should have disqualified himself. The National Court disagreed. The court recognised the principle that it is not necessary to prove that a Magistrate is biased and that “it is enough to show a real likelihood of bias, or at all events that a reasonable person advised of the circumstances might reasonably suspect that a judicial officer was incapable of being impartial and detached.”

However, the court went on to say (at 126):

<Case Quotation>

“It will often happen that a Magistrate will have someone from his own province before him as prosecutor or defence counsel and he may have someone from his own province as defendant or as the victim of a crime. The administration of justice would come to a standstill if every time a prosecutor and victim (or for that matter defence counsel and defendant) came from the same province as the Magistrate a party could have the Magistrate barred for bias.”

<End Case Quotation>

If the association between the Magistrate and a party is more than simply that they are from the same province, for instance, if they live in the same small town, know each other well and see each other often, a Magistrate would likely disqualify himself or herself on the basis of the tests set out in Fidelis Agai v Buckly Yarume and Boateng v The State.

Where circumstances satisfy the test for disqualification on the basis of what a reasonable person might think, but the Magistrate feels that no conflict in fact exists, parties may consent to the Magistrate presiding. A Magistrate should ensure that he or she does not influence the parties in deciding whether to consent and that their consent is expressed clearly and recorded.

In cases of emergency, where an application cannot wait and there is no other Magistrate available, necessity may take priority over the question of disqualification. However, such circumstances would be extremely rare.

1.5.8 Prompt rendering of judgments

The expression “justice delayed is justice denied” is the basis of the obligation of Magistrates to render judgments as soon as possible after a matter has come before the court. Parties are entitled to a decision on the merits as soon as possible. Not only is this an ethical duty, but it reduces stress and backlogs of work for Magistrates. See Chapter 25 for a full discussion of writing judgments.


A Magistrate should be mindful at all times of the fact that extra-judicial activities could create a doubt about the Magistrate’s ability to act impartially. It is neither possible nor desirable for a Magistrate to live a life of isolation. What is required is the exercise of judgment in deciding when and what activities to engage in and what affiliations to maintain.

Where involvement with an activity could create a reasonable doubt about a Magistrate’s ability to act impartially, or where it might otherwise cast the justice system into disrepute, a Magistrate should not engage in the activity.

1.6.1 Public communications relating to the justice system

It is permissible for a Magistrate to take part in speaking, writing and teaching activities that have to do with the law or the legal system. Magistrates are in a unique position to promote public understanding and acceptance of the legal system. When engaging in such activities, a Magistrate should avoid making statements that criticise members of the judiciary. Any comments regarding the justice system generally should be made in as constructive and objective a fashion as possible.

1.6.2 Involvement with government, community service or charitable activities

A Magistrate must not become involved in a governmental position (paid or unpaid) except in very limited circumstances. One such circumstance would be a position that is concerned with the legal system or the administration of justice. Another occasion would be where a Magistrate is asked to represent Papua New Guinea in a ceremonial capacity or in relation to educational or cultural activities.

However, before accepting any such appointment a Magistrate should obtain the permission of a superior and ensure that the appointment will not strain the available judicial resources or delay the movement of cases through the court.

As long as no negative perceptions would arise about a Magistrate’s ability to act impartially, a Magistrate may serve as an officer, director, trustee or non-legal adviser in a governmental or non governmental agency that is devoted to the improvement of the law. He or she may also serve in a similar capacity in a charitable, religious or educational organisation that operates on a non-profit basis.

However, a Magistrate must not become involved in any organisation if it is likely that the organisation will be engaged in contested proceedings that come before the Magistrate in court.

1.6.3 Non-profit fund raising and recruiting membership

Even where it is permissible for a Magistrate to be associated with an organisation, the Magistrate must not become involved in fund raising activities for the organisation. To do so would risk creating the impression that the Magistrate is using his or her judicial position to pressure others to contribute money. The only exception is that a Magistrate is permitted to solicit funds from fellow Magistrates provided that the soliciting Magistrate is not the supervisor of those being solicited.

A Magistrate who is associated with an organisation may take part in the management and investment of the organisation’s funds.

Sometimes recruitment of members of an organisation can appear to outsiders to be like fund raising. If there is a likelihood of this, a Magistrate must refrain from engaging in the recruitment of members for any organisation he or she is associated with.

Under no circumstances should a Magistrate use the prestige of judicial office for fundraising or membership recruitment.

1.6.4 Financial activities

In the course of performing judicial duties, a Magistrate might become aware of financial opportunities. For instance, if a Magistrate knows that a businessman is likely to be sentenced to a term of imprisonment, there could be an obvious financial advantage in buying or investing in the businessman’s competitor. There are many other circumstances where this type of potential advantage could arise.

A Magistrate must never take advantage of financial opportunities that he or she becomes aware of through the position of Magistrate. This extends to members of a Magistrate’s family or any other person.

Subject to the limitations set out above, it is permissible for a Magistrate to hold and manage investments belonging to himself or herself or members of his or her family. On the same basis, it is permissible for a Magistrate to be engaged in a business that is closely held by the Magistrate or members of the Magistrate’s family. However, such engagement should not require time away from judicial duties or otherwise place the Magistrate in a position of potential conflict.

1.6.5 Gifts and loans

A Magistrate must be very careful when accepting gifts. It is easy for even a minor gift to appear as a bribe or an attempt to influence a Magistrate in the discharge of judicial duties. It can raise questions about the Magistrate’s impartiality and the integrity of the judicial office. This applies to gifts to the Magistrate or to family members residing with a Magistrate.

The only gifts that a Magistrate should accept are:

·         Complimentary materials relating to the law (such as books, tapes CD Roms or other resource materials) supplied by publishers.

·         An invitation to a Magistrate and spouse or guest to attend a bar related function or other activity relating to the legal system or administration of justice.

·         A gift or loan from a relative or close personal friend where such a gift would not require a Magistrate to disqualify himself or herself from a case.

·         A loan from a lending institution which is made in the usual course of business and on the same terms that are offered to other members of the public.

·         A scholarship or fellowship awarded on the same terms that it is offered to other members of the public.

·         A gift from a person who is not a party to court proceedings and is not likely to come before the Magistrate in future proceedings. This precludes any gift from a lawyer or law firm, and from any clients of law firms if they are likely to appear before the Magistrate.

·         The Code recommends that even if a gift is permissible, if it is of a value greater than K100 and is not from a close family member, it should be reported to a senior Magistrate.

1.6.6 Professional services

A Magistrate must not engage in professional activities related to the law that fall outside the professional duties as a Magistrate. This means that a Magistrate must not act as a private mediator or arbitrator or engage in the practice of law.

It is permissible for a Magistrate to act on his or her own behalf in a legal capacity to give legal advice to and draft legal documents for members of the Magistrate’s family, so long as no compensation is received.

If a Magistrate engages in any professional services that are not related to the law and are not otherwise prohibited, the Magistrate may receive compensation and reimbursement for expenses provided that it does not exceed what a non-Magistrate would receive and provided expense money does not exceed that actual cost of food, lodging or travel reasonably incurred by the Magistrate.


A Magistrate may participate as a voter in the political process. However, further involvement in politics is improper.

This means that a Magistrate shall not:

·         act as a leader or hold an office in a political organisation;

·         publicly endorse or oppose a candidate for public office;

·         make political speeches;

·         attend political gatherings; or

·         engage in fundraising for a political cause, contribute to a political cause, or purchase tickets for political dinners or other political fundraising events.


If a Magistrate wishes to become involved in political affairs or run for political office, it is necessary to resign from the position of Magistrate before doing so. A further reason for Magistrates to remain aside from politics is that they may be called upon to rule on election disputes: see Chapter 19B.


Although the duties and obligations of a Magistrate pursuant to the Code of Conduct are extensive, they are not the end of the matter. Questions concerning the legal liability of a Magistrate may arise. It is important to note that a Magistrate who observes the Code of Conduct and acts in good faith may enjoy some protection from liability for his or her actions: see Chapter 22 for discussion of the issues.


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