The superior courts consist of:
The High Court (The High Court of Malaya and the High Court of Sabah and Sarawak).
The Court of Appeal.
The Federal Court.
The High Court
The High Courts in Malaysia are the third-highest courts in the hierarchy of courts and there are two chief judges in the High Court:
- The first is in Peninsular Malaysia which contains forty-five judges and judicial commissioners.
- The second is in Sabah and Sarawak which has eleven judges and judicial commissioners.
The High Courts have general supervisory and revisionary jurisdiction over all the Subordinate Courts and hear appeals from the Subordinate Courts in civil and criminal matters, but generally confines itself to offences on which the Magistrates and Sessions Courts have no jurisdiction. In criminal cases, no case may be brought to the High Court unless an offender has been committed for trial after a hearing in a Magistrates’ Court. The jurisdiction to try all civil matters includes bankruptcy or winding-up matters, probates and administration of the estates of deceased persons, where the amount in dispute exceeds RM250, 000.
The High Court has the jurisdiction to try these civil matters where:
- The cause of action occurred within Malaysia; or
- The defendant lives or has his business in Malaysia: or
- The facts on which the actions are existed within Malaysia; or
- Any land the ownership of which is disputed is located within Malaysia.
The High Court may hear appeals from the Magistrates and Sessions Courts in both civil and criminal matters. In criminal jurisdiction, the High Court may hear all matters but generally confines itself to offences on which the Magistrates and Sessions Courts have no jurisdiction, for instance, for example, offences which carry the death penalty.
The courts in Malaysia are heading towards specialization. This move is fuelled by the desire to provide the best service to the public, in the form of dispensing justice fairly, speedily and effectively. In the High Court in Malaya at Kuala Lumpur, specialization is done by categorizing the High Court into:
- Criminal Division.
- Appellate and Special Power Division.
- Civil Division.
- Criminal Division.
High Court judges are assisted by Deputy Registrars and Senior Assistant Registrars and each division its own registry.
The Industrial Court
Industrial Court has been established to relieve the ordinary of some of their work and for creating a harmonious industrial environment through the process of arbitration and the decisions of the Court (Award) consistent within Industrial Relations Act 1967. The mission of The Industrial Court is to support social justice and maintain industrial harmony through expeditious court awards and collective agreements.
The Industrial Court consist of President appointed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and a panel of persons appointed by the Minster of Law. This panel contains a group of representing employees and a group representing workmen. The Industrial Court is heard by the president and two members drawn from the panel- one from each group.
Functions of the Industrial Courts are:
- To hear and hand down decisions or awards in industrial disputes referred to it by the Minister or directly by the parties.
- To grant cognizance to the collective agreements which have been jointly deposited by the employers/ trade union of employers and trade union of employees.
The Court of Appeal
The Court of Appeal is the second highest court in the hierarchy below the Federal Court. The court is headed by the President of the Court of Appeal and constitutes up to ten Court of Appeal Judges. Every proceeding in the Court of Appeal shall be heard and determine by three judges or such a greater uneven number of judges. The court of Appeal is an appellate court of the judiciary system in Malaysia and has jurisdiction to hear appeals against any High Court decision relating to criminal matters. In civil matters also the court of Appeal has jurisdiction to hear and determine. However, no appeal shall be brought to the Court of Appeal in the following cases:
- If the amount or value of the subject matter of the claim is less than RM250, 000 except with the leave of the Court.
- The judgment or order is made by consent of parties.
- The judgment or order relates to costs only.
- Where by virtue of any written law the judgment or order of the High Court is final.
The court of appeal has no power to review, re-open or re-hear any appeal has been heard and disposed of by the Court of Appeal. The Court of Appeal is the final court of appeal on matters decided by the High Court in its appellate or revisionary jurisdiction.
The Federal Court
The Federal Court of Malaysia is the highest judicial authority and the final court of appeal in Malaysia. Its decision binds all the courts below. The Federal Court consists of a president styled as the Chief Justice (formerly called the Lord President), the President of the Court of Appeal, the two Chief Judges of the High Courts in Malaya and Sabah and Sarawak and presently six Federal Court judges. The Federal Court is heard by three judges or such a greater uneven number of judges as the chief Justice may determine in some particular cases.
The Federal Court has the exclusive jurisdiction to determine:
- All civil and criminal appeals from the Court of Appeal. In civil appeals, a litigant may appeal on a point of low the rejection or admission of evidence in lower court. In criminal cases’ an appeal may be made against acquittal or conviction or against sentence on a point of law or fact.
- Disputes on any other question between States or between the Federation and any State (Article 128(1) of the Federal Constitution).
- Any constitutional questions which have arisen in the proceedings of the High Court but referred to the Federal Court for a decision.
The Yang di-Pertuan Agong may refer to the Federal Court for its opinion any question as to the effect of any provision of this Constitution which has arisen or appears likely to arise, and the Federal Court shall pronounce in open court its opinion on any question so referred to it.
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