Republic of South Sudan

Legal System

South Sudan boasts a dual judicial system that administers justice through a cornucopia of statutory and customary law courts spread across the country, although the Constitution itself adopted the English Common Law as the country’s legal system. 

Both statutory and customary law courts operate alongside each other with the statutory courts most found in urban settings and the customary courts existing predominantly in rural areas.

However, it’s not uncommon to find the two systems existing concurrently in either urban or rural areas.

The Judicial System in South Sudan, like in many countries in the region and beyond, comprises, several tiers.

The Supreme Court represents the highest court in the land. The second tier comprises the Courts of Appeal, followed by the High Courts and then the County Courts.

Under these, there are also other smaller courts and tribunals, which may be established according to need.

Generally, the formal courts operate on principles laid down in the statues. Meanwhile, rulings issued by customary courts are based on laws practiced by various ethnic groups.

The relationship between these two systems remains blurry. Technically, the customary courts are subordinate to the formal legal system.

However, and perhaps because these courts are established under the Local Government Act, the formal judiciary apparatus has found it rather difficult to monitor and supervise their judicial activities.