Since independence, Nauruans have been forced to appeal to the High Court of Australia, but Mr Adeang says having a local Court of Appeal which will sit and determine appeals in Nauru will mean appellants who file appeals will have easier access to justice.
“This will be less expensive and affordable for litigants who will be able to actually observe appeal proceedings, and will mean a greater degree of transparency in the delivery of justice.”
The establishment of the local court has the support of the Nauru Law Society and Chief Justice of Nauru, Hon Filimone Jitoko, who stated at the opening of the legal year in January that a Nauruan Court of Appeal will encourage the development of home grown jurisprudence and possibly provide an opportunity for the more robust development of customary law.
Mr Adeang explained that the current costs of appeals to the High Court of Australia are prohibitive.
“At the moment, litigants contemplating further appeals to the High Court are often discouraged both by the costs involved and the distance of a court in a foreign country.”
The minister compared the move to decisions by both Australia and New Zealand to abolish appeals to the UK Privy Council.
“This move also reflects our self-confidence as a nation state and reinforces our sovereignty,” he said.
The Government is working closely with Australia during the transitional period, and appointments of eminent justices from across the region will be made in consultation with the chief justice.
Appeals that were already instituted or filed before Nauru gave notice to Australia of its intention to sever links to the High Court of Australia will continue to be heard by that Court.
Mr Adeang said the Waqa Government is proud of the monumental reforms it has brought to the nation’s justice system.
“The former system which saw only one judge and one magistrate was open to corruption and cronyism, but we have created arguably the most transparent and accountable justice system in the Pacific, and have appointed several highly respected international judges to serve in our court.”