The National Court is a Court of original jurisdiction, meaning it can deal with or hear all sorts of cases, both criminal and civil cases, except for those types of cases that are restricted to the Supreme Court. However, in reality it cannot deal with all cases it is capable of hearing due to jurisdictional limitations placed by various statutes. For instance, it cannot deal with criminal cases under the Summary Offences Act or deal with civil cases, the monetary value of the claim is up to K10, 000-00. This is because the District Court Act gives jurisdiction to the District Courts to deal with them.
All the cases that come before the National Court are of Criminal or Civil Nature. In other words they are either a civil case or criminal case.
The criminal cases are prosecuted by the State while in the civil case; it is the plaintiff who prosecutes their case to get the remedy they claim for in their complaint.
The criminal cases in the National Court initially start of at the police station with a complaint made and the police investigate and then lay appropriate charges against a person for an Offence. The person is then brought to the District Court Committal process. At the end of this process, once the police investigation files are ready, this is then submitted to the District Court magistrate who will go through the file. The Magistrate then decides whether there is a case for the accused person to answer in the National Court. If it is decided that there is a case for the accused to answer, that person is then committed to the National Court. If not, the accused person is released of the charges.
Almost all criminal charges are brought about under the Criminal Code Act. However there are also offences created under certain Statutory Laws and prosecuted before the National Court.
So, in the National Court, the criminal case prosecution process commences when a person is committed to the National Court.
Upon getting the committal notice and the police files, the registry registers the case, gives a file number and creates a file. This file stays with the registry and is managed by it until the case is finally dealt with by the Court.
The Public Prosecutor is the principal lawyer who will prosecute the defendants before the court. The accused persons can get a private lawyer to defend them or get the Public Prosecutor to defend them. Public Solicitor is the principal lawyer employed by the State to help defend the citizens of this country in criminal and also civil matters.
The accused person can either admit to the charge or deny it and a trial be conducted to find out if the person is actually guilty of the charges or not. Where the person is convicted, a penalty is imposed. Where they are found not guilty, they are then discharged of the charges and released.
In the course of dealing with criminal cases, the court can deal with bail applications by the accused persons in the States custody who wants to be released on bail. There also may be other types of applications for various reasons.
The main Rules and Statutes which guide the Courts in dealing with criminal cases would be:
The Criminal Code Act, The Criminal Practice Rules, The Evidence Act, provisions of other related and relevant Statutory laws, the Constitution, certain organic laws under which the offences are created and there is commission of such offences by persons and companies.
What is said here is pretty much the same for each Registry throughout the country. There is an officer dealing with criminal cases in each registry and overseen by the Assistant Registrar.
For more information the Crimes registry at Waigani can be contacted here.