The Vanuatu supreme court says most court documents were lost in the flames that destroyed its building in the capital, Port Vila, in the early hours of yesterday morning.
Police have launched an investigation to determine whether it was arson that destroyed the 100-year-old colonial building.
The registrar of the supreme court, John Alilee, says most court files, some dating back to the 1600's were caught in the flames.
"It is serious in the sense that we have lost very valuable documents to its current operation but also documents that were part of historical value that was kept in the building. Although we have a room that we use as an archive, the key to that room has been destroyed, but the room is still intact. We are hoping that the content of the room is still OK."
John Alilee says his office is working with the public prosecution, the defenders' offices, and law firms to help reconstruct the newer court files.