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Federal court

Superior courts are established under Federal Constitution and the jurisdiction and
powers are governed by the Courts of Judicature Act 1964 (CJA). Federal Court is the highest
court in Malaysia and the final appellate court in Malaysia. Federal Court was established
pursuant to Article 121(2) of the FC. According to article 121(1), the Federal Court shall
consist of a President of the Court (Chief Justice of the Federal Court), President of the Court
of Appeal, Chief Judges of the High Courts and, until the Yang di-Pertuan Agong by order
otherwise provides, of eleven other judges and such additional judges. According to section
74 of the Courts of Judicature Act 1964, every proceeding in the Federal Court shall be, be
heard and disposed off by three (3) judges or such greater uneven number.
The jurisdiction of Federal Court consists of original, appellate, referral, and advisory.
In original jurisdiction, Federal Court has exclusive jurisdiction which are to
determine whether the law passed by Parliament/ State Legislature is valid and to
determine/decide disputes on any question between States and Federation or vice versa
which to give a declaratory judgment pursuant to Art 128(1) FC.
As for the appellate jurisdiction, Federal Court has power to hear civil and criminal
appeals and according to article 121(3) of FC, Fed Court will hear appeals from COA and High
Court. In civil appeal, according to S. 96 CJA 1964, the Fed Court will determine any appeal
against the decision of the COA and order a new trial of any matter tried by the High Court.
As for criminal appeals, pursuant to S.87 of CJA, the court will determine any appeal from
any decision of the COA concerning any criminal matter decided at first instance by the Hg
ct. Next, an appeal may be made by the Public Prosecutor against acquittal, or by any
person convicted and including an appeal may lie on a question of fact or a question of law
or on a question of mixed fact and law. According to S.90 CJA, Fd Ct may dismiss, confirm,
reverse, or vary the decision of the COA. \
Fed Court also has referral jurisdiction pursuant to Art 128(2) FC, the court decides
any question arose in other courts about the interpretation/effect of any provision in
Federal Constitution. When the Fd Ct has decided, it remits the case to trial court to be
disposed accordance with that decision. Pending a decision by the Fd Ct, the trial ct may
stay proceedings.
In advisory jurisdiction, pursuant to Art. 130 FC, YDPA may refer to Federal Court
regarding the effect of any provision in FC. Fd ct has to pronounce in open court its opinion
in the form declaratory judgment on the question referred. Art 130 invoked only once in the
case of Govt of Malaysia v Govt of state of Kelantan [1968].
Court of Appeal
Prior to 1985, the Privy Council was the final court of appeal for Malaysia. It was
abolished and replaced with the Supreme Court until the establishment of the Court of
Appeal in 1994. Established pursuant to Article 121(1B) of the FC. The composition of the
court according to Art 122A, the COA consists of Chairman (President of the Court of
Appeal) and YDPA by order for thirty-two (32) other judges. Pursuant to s.38 CJA, every
proceeding in the COA shall be heard and disposed of by three (3) judges or such greater
uneven number.
This court will hear appeals of civil and criminal.
In civil appeal, according to S. 67 CJA the court will hear and determine any appeal
from decision of the High Court. According to 68 CJA there are no appealable matters.
When the amount or value of the subject matter of the claim is less than RM250,000, except
with leave of the Court of Appeal; where the judgment is made by consent of parties; where
the judgment relates to costs only, except with the leave of the Court of Appeal; and where
by any written law for the time being in force, the judgment of the High Court is expressly
declared to be final.
In criminal appeal, according to S. 50(1) CJA 1964 the court will hear and determine
any appeal against any decision made by High Court in the exercise of its, original
jurisdiction; and appellate or revisionary jurisdiction in respect of any criminal matter
decided by Session court. Appeal may be made with the leave of court against the decision
of Hg ct in exercise of its revisionary jurisdiction by the Mg Ct by pursuant to S.50(2) CJA
1964.
Magistrate Court
Magistrate Court established pursuant to S. 76 (1) SCA 1948. The Magistrates Courts
deal with both civil and criminal, and sit in almost all major towns in Malaysia. All appeals
will go to High Court according to S. 26-28 CJA 1964. The court headed by a magistrate
appointed from Judicial Legal Service by pursuant to S. 81 SCA. There are 2 types of
magistrate which are First Class and Second Class.
Firstly, First Class Magistrate has jurisdiction for both civil and criminal. In civil,
according to S. 90 SCA, the court can try all litigations where the matter in dispute or subject
matter does not exceed RM100,000.00. In criminal, S. 85 SCA states the court to try all
offences punishable with, up to 10 years imprisonment or with fine only and offences
related to punishment for robbery (s. 392 of PC) and house breaking by night (s. 457).
Sentencing power under s. 87(1) SCA, the court may pass sentence which are not exceeding
5 years imprisonment, fine of RM 10,000, whipping up to 12 strokes and any combination of
sentence.
Second Class Magistrate also has jurisdiction for both criminal and civil. In civil, S. 92
SCA, states the court only to try civil cases where the plaintiff seeks to recover a debt or
liquidated demand, not exceeding RM10,000. In criminal, S. 88 SCA provides the court to
deal only with cases where the maximum punishment imposed is no more than 12 months
imprisonment or which is punishable with a fine only. Sentencing power under s. 89 SCA,
the court may pass sentence, not exceeding 6 month imprisonment, fine not exceeding
RM1000 and any sentence combining either.
High Court
High Court established pursuant to Article 121(1)(a) and (b) of the FC. There are 2
High Courts having coordinate jurisdiction in Malaysia, namely the High Court of Malaya and
the High Court of Sabah and Sarawak. Local jurisdiction of Hg Ct Malaya means the territory
comprising the states and federal territories in Peninsular Malaysia, whereas Hg Ct Sabah &
Sarawak, territory comprising Sabah, Sarawak and FT Labuan. High court sit in key towns in
each state in respective territories.
The composition of High Court, according to Art 122AA, each of the two High Courts
is headed by a Chief Judge, and 4 but not exceeding 60 other judges in High Court of Malaya
& not exceeding 13 other judges in High Court of Sabah and Sarawak. According to S.18(1)
of CJA, every proceeding in the High Court will be heard and disposed of before a single
judge. The High Courts have specialized divisions, namely criminal division, civil division,
commercial division, appellate division, and family division.
It has unlimited jurisdiction in civil and criminal matters. In criminal original
jurisdiction, according s. 22(1) CJA, any jurisdiction over citizen and non-citizen. On the
other hand, S.22(2) pass any sentence allowed by law. In civil original jurisdiction, according
to S.23(1), it has general civil jurisdiction. According to s.24 CJA, it also has jurisdiction to try
all regardless of values, includes divorce, matrimonial, admiralty, bankruptcy, guardianship
of infant, wills and probate.
In appeal jurisdiction, there are civil and criminal. In criminal, according to s. 26 CJA,
the court can hear appeals from the Subordinate Courts according to any law for the time
being in force within the territorial jurisdiction of the High Court. In civil, pursuant to s. 27
CJA, the court may hear appeal from subordinate court. S. 28(1) CJA states that no appeal to
be made if the amount in dispute is less than RM10,000 except for question in law, while S.
28(2) states that an appeal shall lie relating to maintenance of wives or children, irrespective
of the amount.
According to S.35(1) CJA, High Court has been conferred a general supervisory and
revisionary jurisdiction over all subordinate courts in the interests of justice. In criminal, S.
31 CJA allows HC to revise criminal proceedings in subordinate courts. In civil, S. 32 CJA
provides the HC with revisionary power for dealing with civil cases which means to revise
correctness or legality of any decision recorded or passed/ regularity of any proceedings.
Session Court
Session Court established pursuant to S. 59 Subordinate Courts Act 1948. It is the
highest court of all subordinate courts. According to S.59(3) SCA, Session Court presided
over by a Sessions Court judge. A Sessions Court Judge is appointed by the Yang di-Pertuan
Agong on the recommendation of the respective Chief Judges.
A Session Court has original jurisdiction for both criminal and civil matters and
supervisory jurisdiction.
Firstly, original jurisdiction. In civil, pursuant to S. 65(1)(a) SCA, it has unlimited
jurisdiction over matters relating to accidents, landlord-tenants and distress. S.65(1)(b) SCA
provides all other suits where the amount in dispute or the subject matter does not exceed
RM1,000,000.00. S.65(1)(c) states all suits for specific performance, rescission of contracts,
injunction. According to S. 65(5), Sessions Court may, in respect of any action or suit within
the jurisdiction of the Sessions Court, in any proceedings before it to grant an injunction and
make a declaration, whether or not any other relief, redress or remedy is or could be
claimed. On the other hand, in criminal, according to S. 63 SCA Session Courts may try all
offences except punishable by death, and S.64 of SCA states the courts may impose any
sentence except death sentence.
As for supervisory jurisdiction, pursuant to S.54(1) of SCA, the courts may examine
record of any civil proceeding before the Magistrates court. S.54(2) says that if any decision
is illegal or improper, or any proceedings is irregular, it must be forwarded to High Court.