Land Ombudsman


    The Office of the Land Ombudsman is established by the Land Reform (Amendment) Act no. 31 of 2013. 

    Office Location:

    We are currently located within the Offices of the Ministry of Justice and Community Services, Ex- Post Office Building, Down-Town, Port Vila.

    Our Vision:

     To be recognised as providing leadership in the investigation of complaints regarding the process of the leasing of, and related dealings, custom lands that marginalizes others economically or socially.    

     Our Mission:

     To ensure the original leasing of custom land, and subsequent dealings, involve substantial majority of members of custom owning groups, holders of perpetual use rights (if any), indigenous citizens and general members of communities that may be affected.

     Our Values:

    We value the inclusivity, participatory, collective, consensus and equitable approach to leasing of custom land. 

     Our Objectives :

    • To investigate whether the meeting of the custom owners or disputing parties  was properly constituted.
    • To investigate whether the custom owners or disputing parties, by consensus, consent to the registration of a lease or an application for subdivision of land or an application for change of  lease class presented to them.
    • To investigate whether the custom owners or disputing parties understand the nature and purpose of  an application or agreement (lease) presented to them. 
    • To investigate whether other indigenous citizens and community in the locality, who may be affected by any of those land dealings, were given adequate opportunity to express their views to the custom owners or  disputing parties
    • To secure improved physical, human and financial resources and Office infrastructure for the effective operation of the Office of the Land Ombudsman.  

    Who could lodge a complaint with the Land Ombudsman? 

    • Custom owners; or
    • A member or members of a custom-owner grouping; or
    • A party or some parties to an existing dispute over land or lease in question; or
    • A member or members of a community, including woman and young people, in the locality where the land is situated; or
    • Other indigenous citizens, including those not custom owners, who may be affected by a lease or subdivision or change of a Lease class.

      How could I raise a compliant with the Land Ombudsman?

     The Land Ombudsman may receive both oral and written complaints. However, for record purposes, it is preferred that complaints are in writing. Complaint forms are available from the Office of the Land Ombudsman.

     How do I know that a meeting of a custom-owner is not constituted?

    • If the Custom Lands Officer (CLO) failed to ensure that all the members of the custom-owners listed in a determination made by a nakamal or joint nakamal, and in the certificate of recorded interest issued by the National Coordinator (NC) of the Customary Land Management Office, attend the meeting called for to discuss an application for negotiator’s certificate or a subdivision or a change of lease class; and 
    • If an applicant for a negotiator’s certificate, or his representative, is present at the consultative meetings contacted by the CLO with the custom owners.
    • If the meeting excluded any member or members of the declared “Custom owners”.
    • If the meeting excluded an individual who has been identified as having sole ownership, in accordance with the custom of the area in which the land is situated.
    • If the CLO is not present in one or all of the consultative meetings.
    • If the overwhelming number of the adult members of the land owners or groups are not present in the consultative meetings. 

    Conducting of consultation meetings with the custom owners for Negotiator’s Certificate.

     Where custom owners have been identified, the CLO must follow these steps;-   

    • Upon receiving an application for negotiator’s certificate from the Chairman of Land Management and Planning Committee, the designated CLO must determine the membership of the custom-owners group by a certificate of recorded interested in Land; and
    • Arrange and hold a first consultation meeting with the custom-owners. The CLO must provide a copy of the application to each of the custom owners group ( if custom owners group is more than one); and
    • Each custom owner grouping must sign a prescribed form acknowledging that it has received a copy of the application; and
    • The CLO must clearly and thoroughly read the details of the application to the land owners in Bislama. Where members of the custom owners are not fluent in Bislama or have some difficulties understanding the details of the application, the CLO must arrange for a reliable person to translate the details of the application to the local language.
    • If the custom owners agree to consider the application, the CLO must close the meeting and call for the second consultation meeting within 28 days. This would allow time for custom owners to seek legal or any other advice prior to making a final decision. 
    • An applicant for negotiator’s certificate or his representative must not be present in the consultative meetings with the land owners.   
    • The applicant is not allowed by law to negotiate with the custom owners until a negotiator’s certificate is approved and issued.    
    • The CLO must prepare a written report confirming whether the land owners have declined the application or gave their free, prior and informed consent for the Minister to grant negotiator’s certificate. 


    Custom owner” refers to “any person or persons” having “lineage, being a member or members of a clan or tribe or other groups, which are identified by the rule of custom of an area, where the land is situated, as custom owners” (Customary Land Management Act no. 33 of 2013).

     Membership of the custom owner group includes “all descendants of a custom group who are declared by custom process and in accordance with the rules of custom to be members of that group and includes all people who hold ownership or use rights over land in accordance with the rules of custom” (Customary Land Management Act no. 33 of 2013).

    Office of the Land Ombudsman

    Ministry of Justice and Community Services

    Private Mail Bag 9084, Port Vila: Tel: (678) 33615

    Government of the Republic of Vanuatu.

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