Federal Court of Malaysia

The Federal Court of Malaysia (Malay: Mahkamah Persekutuan Malaysia) is the highest court and the final appellate court in Malaysia. It is housed in the Palace of Justice in Putrajaya. The court was established during Malaya's independence in 1957 and received its current name in 1994.

Federal Court of Malaysia
Mahkamah Persekutuan Malaysia
Established1957
LocationPalace of Justice, Putrajaya
Composition methodRoyal appointment with the advice of the Prime Minister
Authorized byFederal Constitution
Judge term lengthCompulsory retirement at age 66 and 6 months
Number of positions15
Websitewww.kehakiman.gov.my
Chief Justice of Malaysia
CurrentlyTengku Maimun Tuan Mat
Since2 May 2019
The Federal Court is located in the Palace of Justice in Putrajaya.

History

The earliest predecessor of the Federal Court was the Court of Judicature of Prince of Wales' Island (now Penang), Singapore and Malacca, which was established by the Second Charter of Justice, issued by the Crown as letters patent dated 27 November 1826.[1] The Court was presided over by the Governor of the Straits Settlements and Resident Councillor of the settlement where the court was to be held, and another judge called the Recorder.[2] The Third Charter of Justice of 12 August 1855 reorganised the Court, providing the Straits Settlements with two Recorders, one for Prince of Wales' Island and the other for Singapore and Malacca.[3]

Following the reconstitution of the Straits Settlements as a Crown colony with effect from 1 April 1867,[4] the Court of Judicature was replaced by the Supreme Court of the Straits Settlements.[5] The Governor and Resident Councillors ceased to be judges of the Court.[6]

Further changes to the Court's constitution were made in 1873. It now consisted of two divisions – the Chief Justice and the Senior Puisne Judge formed the Singapore and Malacca division of the Court, while the Judge of Penang and the Junior Puisne Judge formed the Penang division. The Supreme Court also received jurisdiction to sit as a Court of Appeal in civil matters. In 1878 the jurisdiction and residence of judges was made more flexible, thus impliedly abolishing the geographical division of the Supreme Court.[7] Appeals from decisions of the Supreme Court lay first to the Court of Appeal and then to the Queen-in-Council, the latter appeals being heard by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.[8]

As a result of legislation passed in 1885,[9] the Supreme Court consisted of the Chief Justice and three puisne judges. The Court was significantly altered in 1907.[10] It now had two divisions, one exercising original civil and criminal jurisdiction and the other appellate civil and criminal jurisdiction.[11]

During the Japanese occupation of Singapore (1942–1945), all the courts that had operated under the British were replaced by new courts established by the Japanese Military Administration. The Syonan Koto-Hoin (Supreme Court) was formed on 29 May 1942; there was also a Court of Appeal, but it was never convened.

Following the end of World War II, the courts that had existed before the war were restored. There was no change in the judicial system when the Straits Settlements were dissolved in 1946 and Singapore became a crown colony in its own right,[12] except that the Supreme Court of the Straits Settlements became known as the Supreme Court of Singapore.[13]

The courts of Penang and Malacca merged with the rest of Malaya to form the Supreme Court of the Federation of Malaya. This continued upon independence in 1957 until 1963. When Malaya, Sabah, Sarawak, and Singapore formed Malaysia in 1963, the court was renamed the Federal Court of Malaysia.

The judicial power of Malaysia was vested[14] in a Federal Court, a High Court in Malaya, a High Court in Borneo (now the High Court in Sabah and Sarawak), and a High Court in Singapore (which replaced the Supreme Court of the Colony of Singapore).[15] Appeals lay from the High Court in Singapore to the Federal Court in Kuala Lumpur, and then to the Privy Council.

The merger did not last: in 1965 Singapore was expelled from the Federation of Malaysia and became an independent republic. However, the High Court of Singapore remained part of the Malaysian Federal Court structure until 1969, when Singapore enacted the Supreme Court of Judicature Act[16] to regularise the judicial system.

Before 1985, the Federal Court remained the second highest court in the land, being subordinate to the Privy Council in England.[17] On 1 January 1978, appeals to the Privy Council in criminal and constitutional matters were abolished, while appeals in civil matters were abolished on 1 January 1985.[17] When appeals to the Privy Council were abolished, the court was renamed Supreme Court of Malaysia. Finally, on 24 June 1994, as part of reforms, the court was once again renamed the Federal Court of Malaysia.[18]

Current judges

The court is composed of the Chief Justice, President of the Court of Appeal, the Chief Judges of the High Court in Malaya and the High Court in Sabah and Sarawak and 11 other Federal Court judges.[18] The Chief Justice is also the head of the judiciary in Malaysia.[18] All judges are appointed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong on the advice of the Prime Minister of Malaysia.[18] All judges mandatorily retire at the age of 66 and 6 months.[18] In order of seniority, they are as follows:[19][20]

Name Born Alma mater Invested Mandatory
retirement
Duration Prior senior judicial roles
Yang Amat Arif Tun Dato' Seri Utama
Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat
(Chief Justice of Malaysia)
2 July 1959
(age 63)
University of Malaya 26 November 2018 1 January 2026 4 years and 66 days Justice of the High Courts of Malaysia (2007–2013)
Justice of the Court of Appeal of Malaysia (2013–2018)
Yang Amat Arif Tan Sri Dato'
Abang Iskandar Abang Hashim
(President of the Court of Appeal of Malaysia)
3 July 1959
(age 63)
University of Malaya 26 November 2018 2 January 2026 4 years and 66 days Justice of the High Courts of Malaysia (2009–2013)
Justice of the Court of Appeal of Malaysia (2013–2018)
Yang Arif Dato'
Mohamad Zabidin Mohd Diah
(Chief Judge of Malaya)
1 September 1957
(age 65)
University of Malaya 3 February 2022 29 February 2024 362 days Justice of the High Courts of Malaysia (2006–2018)
Justice of the Court of Appeal of Malaysia (2018–2022)
Yang Arif Dato'
Abdul Rahman Sebli
(Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak)
25 January 1959
(age 64)
University of Malaya 8 August 2019 24 July 2025 3 years and 176 days Justice of the High Courts of Malaysia (2010–2014)
Justice of the Court of Appeal of Malaysia (2014–2019)
Yang Arif Datuk
Nallini Patmanathan
23 August 1959
(age 63)
University of London
University of Westminster
26 November 2018 22 February 2026 4 years and 66 days Justice of the High Courts of Malaysia (2009–2014)
Justice of the Court of Appeal of Malaysia (2014–2018)
Yang Arif Datuk
Vernon Ong Lam Kiat
19 October 1956
(age 66)
University of Hong Kong 8 August 2019 18 April 2023 3 years and 176 days Justice of the High Courts of Malaysia (2010–2014)
Justice of the Court of Appeal of Malaysia (2014–2019)
Yang Arif Dato'
Zabariah Mohd. Yusof
11 April 1959
(age 63)
University of Malaya 5 December 2019 10 October 2025 3 years and 57 days Justice of the High Courts of Malaysia (2013–2016)
Justice of the Court of Appeal of Malaysia (2016–2019)
Yang Arif Dato Sri'
Hasnah Mohammed Hashim
15 May 1959
(age 63)
University of Malaya 5 December 2019 14 November 2025 3 years and 57 days Justice of the High Courts of Malaysia (2012–2016)
Justice of the Court of Appeal of Malaysia (2016–2019)
Yang Arif Dato'
Mary Lim Thiam Suan
4 November 1957
(age 65)
University of Leeds
University of Western Australia
25 March 2020 3 May 2024 2 years and 312 days Justice of the High Courts of Malaysia (2010–2016)
Justice of the Court of Appeal of Malaysia (2016–2020)
Yang Arif Datuk
Harmindar Singh Dhaliwal
22 October 1958
(age 64)
University of Malaya
University of New South Wales
25 March 2020 21 April 2025 2 years and 312 days Justice of the High Courts of Malaysia (2011–2016)
Justice of the Court of Appeal of Malaysia (2016–2020)
Yang Arif Dato'
Rhodzariah Bujang
5 November 1961
(age 61)
University of Malaya 25 March 2020 4 May 2028 2 years and 312 days Justice of the High Courts of Malaysia (2011–2017)
Justice of the Court of Appeal of Malaysia (2017–2020)
Yang Arif Dato'
Nordin Hassan
13 July 1963
(age 59)
University of Malaya 17 January 2023 12 January 2030 14 days Justice of the High Courts of Malaysia (2017–2020)
Justice of the Court of Appeal of Malaysia (2020–2023)

Building

The Federal Court is located in the Palace of Justice in the federal administrative capital of Putrajaya. It was previously housed in the Sultan Abdul Samad Building in Kuala Lumpur.

References

  1. Andrew Phang Boon Leong (2006). From Foundation to Legacy: The Second Charter of Justice. Singapore: Singapore Academy of Law. pp. 19–23. ISBN 978-981-05-7194-8. (pbk.)..
  2. Mavis Chionh (2005). "The Development of the Court System". In Kevin Y[ew] L[ee] Tan (ed.). Essays in Singapore Legal History. Singapore: Singapore Academy of Law; Marshall Cavendish Academic. pp. 93–138 at 99–100. ISBN 978-981-210-389-5. (hbk.), (pbk.)..
  3. Chionh, p. 103.
  4. By the Straits Settlements Act 1866 (29 & 30 Vict., c. 115) (UK).
  5. By the Supreme Court Ordinance 1868 (No. 5 of 1868) (Straits Settlements).
  6. These changes were respectively effected by the Judicial Duties Act (No. 3 of 1867) (Straits Settlements) and the Supreme Court Ordinance 1868 (No. 5 of 1868) (Straits Settlements).
  7. By the Courts Ordinance 1878 (No. 3 of 1878) (Straits Settlements).
  8. Judicial Committee Act 1844 (7 & 8 Vict., c. 69) (UK).
  9. Ordinance No. XV of 1885 (Straits Settlements).
  10. By the Courts Ordinance 1907 (No. XXX of 1907, Straits Settlements).
  11. Chionh, "Development of the Court System", pp. 104–106.
  12. By the Straits Settlements (Repeal) Act 1946 (9 & 10 Geo. VI, c. 37).
  13. Kevin Y[ew] L[ee] Tan (2005). "A Short Legal and Constitutional History of Singapore". In Kevin Y[ew] L[ee] Tan (ed.). Essays in Singapore Legal History. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Academic for the Singapore Academy of Law. pp. 1–72 at 42–44. ISBN 978-981-210-389-5. (hbk.), (pbk.)..
  14. By the Malaysia Act 1963 (No. 26 of 1963, Malaysia).
  15. The change was effected by the Courts of Judicature Act 1963 (No. 7 of 1964, Malaysia), reprinted as Act No. RS(A) 6 of 1966 in the Singapore Reprints Supplement (Acts) of the Government Gazette.
  16. Supreme Court of Judicature Act 1969 (No. 24 of 1969), now the Supreme Court of Judicature Act (Cap. 322, 2007 Rev. Ed.).
  17. "Courts & Judgments". Jurist. University of Pittsburgh. Retrieved 14 July 2011.
  18. "The Malaysian Judiciary". Federal Court of Malaysia. Archived from the original on 9 July 2011. Retrieved 14 July 2011.
  19. "Federal Court Judges". kehakiman.gov.my. Archived from the original on 9 February 2020. Retrieved 5 December 2019.
  20. "Judges of the Federal Court". Official Website of the Judicial Appointment Commission. Judicial Appointment Commission of Malaysia. Retrieved 17 December 2016.
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