At the apex of the Swaziland justice system is the Supreme Court, which is the final court of appeal on all matters. It has a supervisory and review jurisdiction over all the courts of Swaziland. The High Court is second after the Supreme Court, and it is vested with powers to handle matters with a constitutional bearing. It also has unlimited original jurisdiction in civil and criminal matters. Parallel to the High Court are the Industrial Court and Industrial Court of Appeal, which are specialist courts dealing exclusively with industrial and labour matters. Magistrates Courts follow below the High Court. Swazi National Courts were set up to deal with issues involving Swazi nationals under customary law. Over the years the precise definition of Swazi national has become blurred as more non-nationals were tried and convicted by these courts, presided over by court presidents, who are supposedly well versed in Swazi law and custom. The 1998 Swazi Administration Order set up Chiefs Courts which were to work in similar fashion to the Swazi National Courts, but this Order was struck down by the Court of Appeal.
The judiciary faced a number of challenges in recent years, mainly from government’s refusal to obey court orders, resulting in the en masse resignation of judges of the former Court of Appeal. Tenure of office was also a challenge, as at the beginning of 2007 only two judges of the High Court occupied office after their compatriots’ one-year contracts were not renewed.