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- Legal System
Fiji’s legal system follows the English Common Law system. Common law influences can particularly be seen in business law. For example, structures unique to English Common Law, such as trusts, are regulated in Fijian law by the Partnership Act and the Trustee Act. In 1990 the judicial system was reorganised by the constitution, but it retains elements of the British system.
Justice is delivered by the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal, the High Court and magistrates’ Courts. The Magistrate’s Courts, the courts of first instance, try the majority of cases. The High Court is responsible for trying more serious cases, and for hearing appeals from decisions in the magistrates’ Courts. The appellate courts, including the High Court, may engage in constitutional review. The High Court has jurisdiction to review violations of individual rights provided by the Constitution. The final court of appeal in civil and criminal matters is the Supreme Court, which has exclusive jurisdiction to hear and determine appeals from all final judgements of the Court of Appeal. The entire judiciary was dismissed by the president in April 2009 after the Court of Appeal ruled that the government that came to power in the 2006 coup was illegal.
Lawyers in Fiji are styled either as barristers or solicitors, although many act in both roles. The association that traditionally represented legal professionals in Fiji is the Fiji Law Society, although since 2009 this body has been stripped of its authority to issue certification. The body now responsible for accrediting legal professionals is the Board of Legal Education.
In order to practice in Fiji, one needs to have attained an acceptable law degree (in Fiji or elsewhere, likely a Commonwealth country), partaken in a programme or course of practical legal training, and have lived in Fiji for at least three months. Subject to satisfying these, and any other posed requirements, Commonwealth citizens can practice law in the country. Many leading lawyers in Fiji obtained their qualifications in Australia and New Zealand. The oldest law firm in Fiji is Cromptons, which has been operating since 1894, while the largest firm in the country is currently Munro Leys (2012). Other notable established firms include Howards, Mitchell Keil Lawyers and Parshotam Lawyers, all based in Suva.
Not included in the World Economic Forum, The Global Competitiveness Report (2012-2013).
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|Sherani & Co. Solicitors||