Court of Appeal of Tonga

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Court of Appeal of Tonga
Coat of arms of Tonga.svg
Established 1875
Country Tonga
Location Nuku'alofa, Tonga
Composition method Royal nomination with Privy Council of Tonga approval
Authorized by Constitution of Tonga
Decisions are appealed to Privy Council of Tonga
Chief Justice of Tonga
Currently The Hon Owen Paulsen
Since 9 January 2015

The Court of Appeal of Tonga is the supreme court in Tonga for all criminal and most civil matters. It hears criminal and civil appeals from the Supreme Court and also hears appeals from the Land Court.


An appeal from the Supreme Court to the Court of Appeal can be made as of by right unless it is a civil matter and the amount in dispute does not exceed T$1000. Orders made by consent, orders regarding costs, and interlocutory decisions also cannot be heard by the Court of Appeal without leave of the Court.

An appeal from the Land Court to the Court of Appeal can also be made as of by right. However, matters relating to the determination of hereditary estates and titles are appealed to the Privy Council of Tonga.

The Court of Appeal can also deliver advisory opinions when specifically requested to do so by the monarch, the Cabinet, or the Legislative Assembly.


The Court of Appeal is headed by the Chief Justice of Tonga. The Chief Justice and the other Justices of Appeal are appointed by the Privy Council and are foreign nationals, usually from other Commonwealth jurisdictions.

Chief Justices[edit]

  • 2015–present Owen Paulsen
  • 2010–15 Michael Dishington Scott
  • 2006–10 Anthony David Ford
  • 2004–06 Robin Maclean Webster
  • c.1998–2004 Sir Gordon Ward (2nd term) (Later Chief Justice of Turks and Caicos Islands, 2008}[1]
  • 1997–98 Jack Lewis
  • 1995–97 Nigel Kenneth Hampton
  • 1992–95 Sir Gordon Ward (1st term)[1]
  • 1988–91 Geoffrey William Martin [2]
  • 1968–88 ?
  • 1956–68 Sir Clifford Hammett (jointly with Fiji)
  • 1949–53 James Beveridge Thomson (jointly with Fiji) (later Chief Justice of the Federation of Malaya, 1957)
  • 1936– Sir Ragnar Hyne
  • 1930–35 Charles Murray Murray-Aynsley
  • 1905– Robert Louis Skeen


  1. ^ a b "Former Tonga Chief Justice Knighted". Vava΄u Press Ltd. Retrieved 2 March 2016. 
  2. ^ "Geoffrey-William-MARTIN". Debretts. Retrieved 17 October 2015. 
  • Jennifer Corrin-Care, Tess Newton and Don Paterson Introduction to South Pacific Law (Cavendish Publishing Ltd: London, 1999).

External links[edit]