Malo e Lelei
Welcome to the Ministry of Justice
- Last Updated: 19 August 2016
Hon. Sione Vuna Fa’otusia, Minister of Justice
The Minister of Justice, Hon. Sione Vuna Fa'otusia, was appointed to the post of Minister of Justice in January 2015.
The Ministry of Justice is responsible for the provision of policy advice on all Justice sector matters including relevant legislative issues to the Prime Minister and Cabinet. It also provides support and administrative services to the Courts (Court of Appeal, Supreme Court, Land Court, Family Court and Magistrates’ Court.
The Amendments to the Constitution in 2010 have removed the administration of the Courts to the Lord Chancellor’s Office, but these arrangements are still in transition and are yet to be finalized, for the meantime the budget and the administrative staff of the courts remain with the Ministry of Justice.
The Ministry is responsible for the enforcement services for the Courts, by administering and managing the Bailiff Office and Probation Office.
The Ministry provides administrative and staff support services to the Lord Chief Justice in his role as Registrar General and to the Vital Statistics Office, as this is the national civil registry office for the Kingdom of Tonga.
The Ministry provides support services, whenever required, to the established integrity institutions:
- The Electoral Commission – which is responsible for enforcing and implementing free and fair elections in the Kingdom;
- The Anti-Corruption Office - which is still in its establishment stage;
- Public Relations Office – which is responsible for investigating complaints from the public on government and public enterprise administrative issues.
The Judiciary is defined under Clause 84(2) of the Constitution as the Lord President of the Court of Appeal and Judges of the Court of Appeal; the Lord Chief Justice, who shall be the professional Head of the Judiciary, and Judges of the Supreme Court; The Lord President of the Land Court and Judges of the Land Court; and the Chief Magistrate and the Magistrates.
Clause 83B of the Constitution of Tonga (as amended) creates the position of the Lord Chancellor and his roles which is quoted herewith:
“83B The Lord Chancellor
(1)The King in Privy Council, after receiving advice from the Judicial Appointments and Discipline Panel, shall appoint a Lord Chancellor who shall have primary responsibility for –
- the administration of the courts;
- all matters related to the Judiciary and its independence;
- the maintenance of the rule of law; and
- such related matters as are specified in this Constitution or any other Act.
(2)The Lord Chancellor shall, unless otherwise provided by law, have complete discretion to exercise his functions, powers and duties, independently without any interference whatsoever from any person or authority.
(3)The Lord Chancellor may, with the consent of the King in Privy Council, make regulations for the following purposes –
- to establish an age at which the Attorney General, a Judge, a Magistrate and the Lord Chancellor shall retire from office;
- to regulate a judicial pension scheme;
- to provide for administrative arrangements for and related to the Office of the Lord Chancellor.
(4)The Lord Chancellor shall be a person who is qualified to be a Judge of the Supreme Court and he shall, subject to any contractual arrangements, hold office during good behaviour.
(5)The King in Privy Council, after receiving advice from the Judicial Appointments and Discipline Panel, shall determine the terms of appointment of the Lord Chancellor, and shall have the power to dismiss him.”
Furthermore, under Clause 83C is the establishment of the Judicial Appointments and Discipline Panel (JADP) with their functions which is quoted as follows:
"83C Judicial Appointments and Discipline Panel
(1)There is hereby established, as a Committee of the Privy Council, a Judicial Appointments and Discipline Panel comprising –
- the Lord Chancellor, who shall be the Chairman;
- the Lord Chief Justice;
- the Attorney General; and
- the Law Lords, being such persons versed in the law as the King from time to time shall so appoint.
(2)The Judicial Appointments and Discipline Panel shall recommend to the King in Privy Council –
- the appointment of eminently qualified persons to the Judiciary, and as Lord Chancellor and to any other office that the King requires;
- the disciplining of members of the Judiciary;
- the dismissal of members of the Judiciary for bad behaviour through gross misconduct or repeated breaches of the Code of Judicial Conduct;
- the remuneration and terms of service of members of the Judiciary;
- a Judicial Pensions Scheme;
- a Code of Judicial Conduct; and
- the appointment of assessors to the Panel of Land Court Assessors.”
The Ministry no longer has any input into matters relating to the advertising, appointment, financial contracts of members of the judiciary or the operations of the Judiciary. A full transition of administrative functions and human resource allocations (all administrative staff of the courts continue as Public Servants and remain the responsibility of the Chief Executive Officer) and financial matters relating to the operation of the courts, has not been affected but continues to be with Ministry, which holds the annual government budget since the Lord Chancellor’s Office, does not have an established budget as yet. Transition to the new Justice system continues to be developed and progressed by the Minister of Justice, the Lord Chancellor and the Attorney General.