DePaul University Newsline > Sections > Signed by the Author > Faculty co-authors a review of legal evolution from colony to independence

Faculty co-authors a review of legal evolution from colony to independence

Book cover of
(DePaul University/Jeff Carrion)

Making Law in Papua New Guinea: The Colonial Origins of a Postcolonial Legal System

By: Bruce L. Ottley, College of Law

The book explores Papua New Guinea's colonial system from its adoption in the 1880s, through its development and operation, until the country became an independent country in September 1975. It focuses on the conflicts between the norms and procedures of the British-based colonial legal system and the customary laws that the indigenous population followed. Finally, the book examines how the colonial legal system continues to influence the operation of the independent legal system.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

We three co-authors taught at the University of Papua New Guinea in the final years of the colonial period and in the years immediately following independence. In addition to teaching, we practiced law and worked with government bodies such as the Law Reform Commission. Finally, I also spent 1976 and 1977 as a District Court Magistrate. These experiences inspired us to write the book.

What’s the most surprising thing you learned while writing this book?

While all of us were personally involved on a daily basis with Papua New Guinea's legal system, writing the book enabled us to go back to the "creation" of the colonial legal system and follow the operation, development and interaction of that legal system with the customary laws of Papua New Guineans. Writing the book gave us a much broader understanding of the country's colonial and postcolonial legal systems.

Persuade someone to read your book in less than 50 words:

We consider this book to be "unique" in that, while many books have examined specific aspects of colonial legal systems, this is the first to trace a country's legal system from its colonial beginning, through its colonial period and on to independence.

About the authors:

Bruce Ottley has been a professor at DePaul University's College of Law since 1978. In addition to teaching, he also has served, at various times, as associate dean, acting dean, and interim dean of the College of Law. Prior to coming to DePaul, he taught from 1972 to 1977 in the Faculty of Law at the University of Papua New Guinea and also served as a District Court Magistrate from 1976 to 1977. He holds a B.A. from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, an M.A. and J.D. from the University of Iowa, and an LL.M. from Columbia University.

Publisher, release date:

Carolina Academic Press, June 1, 2021

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