Legal Market Overview
The independent Commonwealth realm Papua New Guinea is a developing country for inbound investment, with growing projects in agriculture, minerals, energy, banking, agriculture, and forestry. Although Papua New Guinea has struggled with the global economic impact of Covid-19, there has been a general optimism that its natural resources and energy sectors will see increased investment as its economy rebounds. The country’s legal system is based on English common law, due to its relatively recent independence from the United Kingdom in 1975. Currently, a majority of the indigenous population lives at subsistence level.
A majority of firms operating in Papua New Guinea are full-service; however, key practice areas include foreign investment, mining and natural resources, traditional and green energy, construction, and banking and finance. Recent years have seen an increase in transport in a push to connect the country both locally and internationally. Some of these projects were temporarily put on hold due to economic uncertainties related to Covid-19.
International firms are usually based in Australia with Papua New Guinea-qualified lawyers. The Australian branch will liaise with a local satellite office in Papua New Guinea or a local firm with a trusted special relationship. Key firms include Ashurst, Dentons, Norton Rose Fulbright, and Corrs Chambers Westgarth. Japan and China have sought investment inroads in the country regarding infrastructure and energy matters. In light of Covid-19, the Papua New Guinea Petroleum & Energy Summit was pushed back from June to September 2020.