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Legal System

Tuvalu has a mixed legal system of English Common Law and local customary law. The court system consists of the sovereign in council, Court of Appeal and the High Court, which are courts of general trial and appellate jurisdiction, and the magistrates’ courts, island courts, and land courts which are lower courts with limited jurisdiction. The Chief Justice presides over the High Court which hears appeals from lower courts. The Court of Appeal in Fiji hears appeals from the High Court; the final court of appeal is the UK’s Privy Council. Island courts are subordinate to the magistrate’s courts and presided over by island magistrates. Their jurisdiction is limited to the boundaries of the island on which they were established and adjacent waters. They can hear petitions for divorce, claims in contract and custody application. Disputes in relation to customary land are resolved at land courts, then to the Land Courts Appeal Panel.