Legal Market Overview
The twin pillars of the Papua New Guinean legal market comprise the banking and finance sector, as well as the minerals and energy sector. The latter’s prominence is owed to the fact that the country harbours large quantities of natural resources, including gas deposits, oil, gold and copper. The exportation of such goods is a principal driver of domestic economic growth, and a critical means by which it has been recovering from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Looking elsewhere, the agriculture, forestry, and fishery industries are all significant employers, accounting for much of the domestic workforce. While the population is generally engaged in informal and smaller-scale employment, development in these areas is being actively strived for. The government continues to call upon foreign investors and specialists to assist in pertinent expansion and development projects.
This year sees the implementation of the 2022-2024 Action Plan, an anti-corruptive initiative put in place with a view to addressing key issues regarding the digitalisation of public data and the accessibility of information online, in relation to tax; information security; data protection and privacy; consumer protection and computer crimes. At present, the full effects of the enactment of this legislation remain to be seen.
Following a tumultuous political contest, James Marape was reappointed as the nation’s prime minister in August 2022, leading a coalition government to victory; the elections have also seen the return of multiple women to parliament for the first time since 2017.
The key players in the legal market are marked out by their distinct international ties, particularly with Australia, which allows the firms the strength in practice to lead in Papua New Guinea. The top-tier firms – namely Corrs Chambers Westgarth, Ashurst and Dentons – are all Port Moresby-based. Their operational resilience in response to the effects of the pandemic are evident, and firms tend to report that, despite the difficulties, their practices are returning to pre-Covid-19 levels of service.