David Denniston

Papua New Guinea

Practiced law in PNG since 2014 and prior to this in Australia since 2004.

In PNG l have been an adviser to the Department of Justice & Attorney General, large conglomerates, international development and refugee programs, and to State Owned Enterprises. l am now in private practice at commercial law firm LLLS Lawyers: https://www.llls.com.pg/

In Australia l practiced with top tier law firms, the Crown Solicitors Office and the Commonwealth Government.

My key areas of practice are corporate and commercial, public law, land, property, disputes, energy & resources, planning & environment, water, climate change, governance, international development, the protection of the law, and international law in the areas of environment, shipping and humanitarian.

Because of a combined interest in the Commonwealth and the ROL, and an interest in what value it could provide a country like PNG, I joined the CLA in 2017 and in more recent times have taken a more active role in the association.

PNG is a fast growing economy established in the Westminster tradition which has a strong human rights based constitution which restricts the role of the legislature in this regard and limits the power of the State. It specifically provides for the ROL and the protection of the law, and sets up various constitutional legal offices.

Despite these protections and the separation of powers, and being a very resource rich country, PNG suffers from a weak public sector, few public services, poor law & order, and endemic corruption. Access to justice and legal literacy is low. As a Melanesian country with strong local identities, PNG ranks very low in all human development indexes (HDI), but has adopted the UN SDGs.

Current and future ROL initiatives:

  • Working with LexisNexis Australia and the LexisNexis ROL Foundation to provide legal information services to PNG.
  • Liaising with PNG national newspaper the “Post Courier” to promote the ROL, including the role of media, whilst also sharing CLA statements.
  • Liaising with the PNG Law Society, of which l am a member, to take up the CLAs offer of membership, and to collaborate with ROL initiatives, including promulgating ROL, and other legal education materials, to members.
  • Providing ROL CLEs to the PNG and Pacific audience of the PNG Centre for Judicial Excellence, whilst also promoting the role of the CLA – see attached
  • Working with the Australian funded legal adviser to the newly elected government of Bougainville with respect to model rules for a Bougainville Law Society, the benefits the ROL, and the support the CLA could provide.
  • Liaising with the representative of New Caledonia to PNG re: sharing ROL materials.
  • Commenced discussions with the Peoples Party of PNG to assist their ROL initiatives.
  • Member of Business Link Pacific where l will offer to present education materials with respect to the benefits of the ROL to business and GDP.
  • Desire to understand and promote, in a Melanesian context:
  • How the adoption of the ROL improves GDP, HDI, and commerce
  • Compatibility between Melanesian custom & ‘Big Man’ culture, and the ROL
  • Gender equality and ROL
  • Recent Member of the South Pacific Lawyers Association and LAWASIA where l would seek to promote the CLA.
  • Form a PNG ‘friends of ROL association’ to include Commonwealth Embassies, recipients of honors and awards, Tl PNG, IDOs, parliamentarians, legal profession, and other key people.

Promote the CLA, Latimer House Principles, the Harare Declaration, UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, the B4ROL Framework, etc