Legal Market Overview
Papua New Guinea is an independent Commonwealth realm that gained independence in 1975. Its main sectors are minerals and energy (oil and gas/LNG) banking, agriculture, forestry and fishing. Key exports include gold, copper, palm oil and coffee. Most of the indigenous population live in traditional social groups in rural environments and most live at subsistence level.
The country’s legal system is based on English common law. Due to the large number of corporates operating competitively in Papua New Guinea, dispute resolution is a common feature of the legal market. Other key practice areas include foreign investment, mining and resources, infrastructure, construction, as well as banking and finance. Transport is also an important sector locally; much of the country is not connected by roads, meaning people and businesses depend on shipping and aviation to move cargo.
There are several international firms operating in the region that deal with the larger infrastructure and mining projects, as well as some smaller local firms that deal with more localised issues. Key firms include Dentons, Allens, Ashurst, Norton Rose Fulbright and Corrs Chambers Westgarth, all of which work in conjunction with their Australian offices and can, therefore, offer clients a full service.
China has been making investment inroads in the country, constructing infrastructure as part of concessional loan packages. 2018 saw Papua New Guinea host the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) conference for the first time, where the 21 member states discussed trade and economic issues.
In June 2020 the Papua New Guinea Petroleum & Energy Summit will bring senior government officials and major industry players working in PNG together to discuss current energy projects and future strategies for expansion.