Source: (1982) In: C. Sumner (ed.), Crime, Justice and Underdevelopment. Brookfield, VT: Gower, pp. 228-247.This study examines the relationship between political economies and dispute settlement forms in precolonial, colonial, and postcolonial Papua New Guinea. Postcolonial dispute settlement has been defined under the Village Courts Act of 1973, which provides for village courts composed of magistrates selected by villagers. The capitalist political economy has tended to produce village courts that serve the interests of the local economic and political elites. Since communal production remains dominant among villagers, they resist forms of covert control and dispute settlement forums perceived to be instruments of control for the elite.