There is a hierarchy of courts in Malaysia which starts with the Magistrates Court as the first level, followed by the Sessions Court, High Court, Court of Appeal and the highest level of the courts is the Federal Court. A court is defined as the institution that the government sets up to settle disputes through a legal process (Reuters, 2014). The subordinate courts are Magistrates Court and Session Court whereas High Court, Court of Appeal and Federal Court are classified as the superior courts. The higher the courts in the hierarchy of courts will hear and decide on more serious case. There are two types of jurisdiction which are criminal and civil jurisdiction that hear and decide by the court.
The Federal Court is the highest court and final appellate court in Malaysia. It was established in 1957 under the Article 121(2) of the Federal Constitution. The Federal Court has the three main power of the jurisdiction due to the Article 121(2) (Supardi, 2013). First, the Federal Court can hear and determine the appeals from the Court of Appeal, of the High Court, or a judge thereof. Second, the Federal Court is conferred such original or consultative jurisdiction as is specified in Article 128 and 130. Third, the Federal Court has authority such other jurisdiction as may be conferred by or under federal law. The courts which are lower than the Federal Court must follow the decision made by the Federal Court. It is located in the Palace of Justice in Putrajaya. The Federal Court is comprises of the Chief Justice, President of the Court of Appeal, Chief Judge of the High Court in Malaya, Chief Judge of the High Court in Sabah and Sarawak and other Federal Court judges (Malaysia Factbook, 2014). The Chief Justice is the head of the judiciary who leads the Federal Court. The judges in the Federal Court were selected by the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong under the advice of the Prime Minister of Malaysia (Malaysia Factbook, 2014). Every proceeding in the Federal Court shall be heard and disposed by three judges or such greater uneven number of judges as the Chief Justice may in any particular case determine. (Mei Pheng & Detta, 2009)
In the Section 96 of the Court of Judicature Act 1964 [Act91] stated that an appeal against the decision of the Court of Appeal may be made to Federal Court with the leave of the Federal Court. After the decision appealed against was given, the application for leave to appeal must be made to Federal Court within in a month. Such party will needs to pay the costs incurred in the prosecution of any appeal or application for leave to appeal which also included the taxes in accordance with the rules of country. The Federal Court has the authority to order a new trial of any cause tried by the High Court but the new trial will not be granted when there are two situations happened. First, the evidence was improperly rejected or admitted unless in the opinion of the Federal Court there is some substantial failure of justice has occurred. Second, if it appears to the Federal Court that the failure affects a part only of the matters or parties in controversy. A new trial ordered without interfering the findings and decisions by the lower courts. The Federal Court shall not reversed or changed the judgement of High Court or any judge on appeal or a new trial ordered by the Federal Court. An appeal does not operate without the orders from the courts below or the Federal Court and the decision appealed shall be invalidated if there is any intermediate act or proceeding.
The Court of Appeal is the second highest court within the hierarchy of courts and it is also the appellant court in Malaysia (Malaysia Factbook, 2014). The Court of Appeal was established in 1994 according to the Article 121(1B) of Federal Constitution (Lawyerment, 2014). The Court of Appeal was headed by President on which the position is located after the Chief Justice of Malaysia in judicial hierarchy. The Court of Appeal is not only comprises the President of the Court of Appeal but it is also consists ten other judges. The judges are assigned by the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong on the advice of the Prime Minister. Normally, the proceedings of the court are held at the Palace of Justice in Putrajaya. However, President can also hold the proceedings at any place in Malaysia if deemed expedient (Malaysia Factbook, 2014). The judge of the Court of Appeal may also include a High Court judge if there is requirement of the President after consult with the Chief Judge of the High Court. All appeals from the High Court are registered in the Court of Appeal Registry and filled in the respective High Court (Malaysia Factbook, 2014). Criminal Panel, Commercial Panel, Civil Panel, Interlocutory Panel, Leave to Appeal Panel and Prerogative Panel are the special panels that formed to expedite the disposal of appeals (Lawyerment, 2014).
In the Section 67 of the Courts of the Judicature Act 1964 stated that the Court of Appeal will hears the appeals from the High Court relating any civil cause or matter, whether made in the exercise of its original or of its appellate jurisdiction, subject to any written law regulating the terms and conditions upon which such appeals are brought. It is the highest Court of Appeal on matters decided by the High Court in its appellate or revisionary jurisdiction. The appeal cannot be made to the Court of Appeal if the cases consist of the following condition. The conditions are the amount of claim of the cases is less than RM250,000 unless it is with the leave of the Court, the judgement made by consent of parties, the judgement relates to costs only and the judgement of the High Court is final, by virtue of any written law.
High Court is located in the third level within the judicial hierarchy. High Court in Malaya and High Court in Sabah and Sarawak are the two High Courts in Malaysia which have the coordinate jurisdiction. The High Court in Malaya comprises of a Chief Judge and forty-seven judges. On the other hand, the High Court in Sabah and Sarawak consists of a Chief Judge and ten judges. High Court in Malaysia is act as the court of the jurisdiction and appellate court (Miss P.). The proceedings in High Court will be heard and disposed of before a single Judge (Lawyerment, 2014).
High Courts has the jurisdiction in the proceedings where the cause of action happened, the defendant or one of several defendants resides or has his place of business, the facts on which the proceedings are based exist or are alleged to have occurred and any ownership of land which is disputed is situated (Miss P.). Not only that, High Courts had specific jurisdiction in any written law which includes divorce or matrimonial cause, bankruptcy or companies, matters of admiralty, guardians of infants and keepers of the property of infants, guardians and keepers of the person and estates of idiots, mentally disordered persons and persons of unsound mind and also the grants and revocation of probates of will and testaments and letters of administration of estates of decreased persons (Miss P.). According to the Section 31 of the Courts of Judicature Act 1964, High Courts owned the revisionary jurisdiction to handle civil matters over all subordinate courts (Supardi, 2013). The function of the High Court as the appellant jurisdiction is to hear appeals from the subordinate courts which include Sessions Court and Magistrates Court based on the Sections 26 and 28 of Courts of Judicature Act 1964. However, there are not all cases that can made appeal to the High Court. In the Sections 26 to 29 of the Courts of Judicature Act 1964 stated when the amount in dispute is Rm10,000 or less, High Court cannot hears appeals from the subordinate courts in any civil cases unless it involves a question of law (Supardi, 2013).
Sessions Court is the second level within the hierarchy of courts and it is the highest of the subordinate courts. Sessions Court is headed by the Sessions Court Judge which appointed by the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong on the recommendation of the Chief Judges respectively (Lawyerment, 2014). Sessions Court is formed to hear both civil and criminal cases. The court of the Sessions Court sits everyday except on public holidays (Malaysia Factbook, 2014).
According to the Section 65 of the Subordinate Courts Act 1948 [Act 92] enables Sessions Court has different aspects of jurisdiction such as unlimited jurisdiction to try all the actions of the civil matters which relating to the motor vehicle accidents, landlords and tenants and distress, jurisdiction to try all the actions of the civil matters where the amount in dispute does not exceed RM1,000,000 and also the jurisdiction to try all actions of the civil matters for the specific performance of contracts or for cancellation or rectification of instruments. However, Sessions Court does not has power in certain proceedings which involves to immovable property, accounts, declaration of decrees, issue and revocation of grants of representation of the estates of decreased persons or the administration or distribution thereof, cases where the legitimacy of any person in question, the guardianship or custody of infants is in question and also the validity or dissolution of any marriage is in question.
Magistrates Court is the first level within the hierarchy of the courts. Magistrates Court is divided into First Class Magistrates Court and Second Class Magistrates Court. The court deals with the minor civil and criminal cases and it sits everyday except on the public holidays (Lawyerment, 2014). The court is presided over by a magistrate. Magistrate for Federal Territory is assigned by the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong on the recommendation of the Chief Judge. On the other hand, magistrate for the respective states is assigned by the State Authority on the recommendation of the respective Chief Judges which are the Chief Judge of the High Court in Malaya, in the case of the Peninsular Malaysia and the Chief Judge of the High Court in Sabah and Sarawak, in the case of the East Malaysia (Malaysia Factbook, 2014). According to the Section 85 of the Subordinate Courts Act 1948 (Revised 1972) amended by the Subordinate Courts (Amendment) Act 1948, a first class magistrate has jurisdiction to try all the crimes for which the maximum term of punishment provided by the law does not exceed ten years’ imprisonment, or all offences punishable with fine only. A second class magistrate owned jurisdiction to try all the offences for which the maximum term of imprisonment provided by law does not exceed twelve months’ imprisonment or offences punishable with a fine only. BOOK!!! (criminal??)
First Class Magistrate The first class magistrate is legally qualified and has greater power. According to the Section 90 of the Subordinate Courts Act 1948 [Act 92], it has jurisdiction to hear all civil actions where the amount in dispute or the value of the subject-matter does not exceed RM100,000 (Lawyerment, 2014). It may also exercise jurisdiction in actions for the recovery of immovable property and for recovery of rent, mesne profits and damages when the money claimed does not exceed RM25,000 or where the rent payable in respect of premises does not exceed RM24,000 per year or RM2,000 per month (Mei Pheng & Detta, 2009). Second Class Magistrate The presiding officer in the second class Magistrates Court is a Justice of Peace who is not legally qualified and normally appointed. The second class magistrate have the power to hear the civil cases where the plaintiff seeks to recover a debt or the liquidated demand in money payable by the defendant, with or without interest, which does not exceed RM10,000 (Lawyerment, 2014). When the claims for the recovery of debts or liquidated demands in money, with or without interest, and not exceeding RM3,000 at the date of filing, it is decided on the ‘Small-Claims’ Courts according to the Subordinate Courts (Amendment) Rules 1987 came into force on 1 August 1987 in Peninsular Malaysia and on 1 September 1987 in Sabah and Sarawak. The court that set up was cheap and it is not allow the legal representation (Mei Pheng & Detta, 2009).
Supardi, A. (2013) Malaysia Courts. [online slides] 29th August 2013 Available at: https://www.slideshare.net/zzan659/module-2-the-court-system [Accessed 1st October 2014] Lawyerment. (2014) What are the civil jurisdictions of the High Court? What power does the High Court have? [online] 27th February 2014 Available at: https://www.lawyerment.com/library/kb/Legal_Institutions/Judiciary/1005-2.htm [Accessed 8th October 2014] Lawyerment. (2014) What are the civil jurisdictions of the Sessions Court? What power does the Sessions Court have? [online] 3rd March 2014 Available at: https://www.lawyerment.com/library/kb/Legal_Institutions/Judiciary/1004.htm [Accessed 11th October 2014] Lawyerment. (2014) What are the civil jurisdictions of the Magistrates Court? What power does the Magistrates Court have? [online] 1st March 2014 Available at: https://www.lawyerment.com/library/kb/Legal_Institutions/Judiciary/1003.htm [Accessed 18th October 2014] Lawyerment. (2014) What is a Court of Appeal? What are the jurisdictions of the Court of Appeal? [online] 4th March 2014 Available at: https://www.lawyerment.com/library/kb/Legal_Institutions/Judiciary/1006.htm [Accessed 7th October 2014] Lawyerment. (2014) What is Federal Court? What are the functions of the Federal Court? [online] 7th March 2014 Available at: https://www.lawyerment.com/library/kb/Legal_Institutions/Judiciary/1512.htm [Accessed 3rd October 2014] Mei Pheng, L. and Detta, I. J. (2009) Business Law. 1st ed. Shah Alam: Oxford University Press Malaysia Factbook. (2014) Court of Appeal of Malaysia. [online] 17th March 2014 Available at: https://malaysiafactbook.com/Court_of_Appeal_of_Malaysia [Accessed 7th October 2014] Malaysia Factbook. (2014) Federal Court of Malaysia. [online] 19th March 2014 Available at: https://malaysiafactbook.com/Federal_Court_of_Malaysia [Accessed 3rd October 2014] Malaysia Factbook. (2014) Magistrates’ Court of Malaysia. [online] 23rd March 2014 Available at: https://malaysiafactbook.com/Magistrates’_Courts_of_Malaysia [Accessed 18th October 2014] Malaysia Factbook. (2014) Sessions Court of Malaysia. [online] 27th March 2014 Available at: https://malaysiafactbook.com/Sessions_Courts_of_Malaysia [Accessed 11th October 2014] Miss P. The High Courts of Malaysia. [blogspot] Available at: https://itslaw.blogspot.com/2010/09/high-courts-of-malaysia.html [Accesses 9th October 2014] Reuters, T. (2014) What is a Court? [blog] Available at: https://litigation.findlaw.com/legal-system/what-is-a-court.html [Accessed 29th September 2014]
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