Foreign judges on constitutional courts: Global insights from Pacific experience

Foreign judges sit on courts of constitutional jurisdiction in more than 30 independent states across the world. The practice is particularly prevalent in the Pacific. Over the past 15 years, 187 foreign judges have served on the courts of constitutional jurisdiction in Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. Foreign judges significantly outnumber local judges in all but one of these states. Every national constitution in the region anticipates, and to varying degrees regulates, the use of foreign judges. This paper will present the findings of an original empirical investigation into the number of foreign judges serving in the Pacific, their backgrounds, and their service. It will then outline some of the ways in which the use of foreign judges affects the work and status of courts of constitutional jurisdiction, focusing on judicial independence, constitutional adjudication and the position of the court in the wider community.