Papua New Guinea's Minister for Justice has ordered an official probe into the non-payment of village court workers.
Magistrates in village courts in Eastern Highlands haven't been paid monthly allowances since 1996.
Mark Maipakai's decided it's time for the national government to take the issue out of the hands of the provinces.
Mr Maipakai says he's expecting a full briefing on the topic this week.
"There's already enough reporting in sources that we have compiled, and they should be doing some briefs in the next few days to me, to see some position in respect to what is happening on the ground."
Mark Maipakai says this information will enable him to make a decision on where responsibility for payments lies.