Concept: Divorce


Adultery cases were always a large part of the court workload of District Officers. Solomon Islanders took adultery very seriously and implemented severe punishments; often both the man and woman were killed. The British were loath to treat adultery as more than a moral offence and no defined punishment was specified until 1924, when a penalty was introduced of a £3 fine or three months imprisonment, increased to six months imprisonment in 1929. The British regulation did not distinguish between men and women adulterers, or their different social statuses.

The Protectorate Advisory Council (q.v.) enacted a Native Divorce Regulation in 1958, updating legislation considered but not enacted in 1939. The Regulation applied to all civil and church marriages between residents of non-European status, and to customary marriages which had been registered, but not to unregistered customary marriages. The Regulation was substantially in line with English divorce law, but procedures were simplified to minimize legal costs. (NS 2, 28 Feb. 1958; Bennett 1987, 281)

Published resources


  • Bennett, Judith A., Wealth of the Solomons: A History of a Pacific Archipelago, 1800-1978, University of Hawai'i Press, Honolulu, 1987. Details


  • British Solomon Islands Protectorate (ed.), British Solomon Islands Protectorate News Sheet (NS), 1955-1975. Details