High court (Malaysia)

The high courts in Malaysia are the third-highest courts in the hierarchy of courts, after the Federal Court and the Court of Appeal. Article 121 of the Constitution of Malaysia provides that there shall be two high courts of co-ordinate jurisdiction—the High Court in Malaya and the High Court in Sabah and Sarawak (before 1994, the High Court in Borneo). Before 1969, the High Court in Singapore was also part of the Malaysian courts system (see Law of Singapore).

High Court of Malaya/
High Court of Sabah and Sarawak
Mahkamah Tinggi Malaya/
Mahkamah Tinggi Sabah dan Sarawak
Composition methodRoyal appointment with the advice of the Prime Minister
Authorized byFederal Constitution
Appeals toCourt of Appeals of Malaysia
Judge term lengthCompulsory retirement at age 66
Number of positionsPeninsular Malaysia: 60 (including 16 vacancies)
Sabah and Sarawak: 13 (including 5 vacancies)
Chief Judge of the High Court of Malaya
CurrentlyAzahar Mohamed
Since11 July 2018
Chief Judge of the High Court of Sabah and Sarawak
CurrentlyAbang Iskandar Abang Hashim
Since25 February 2020

The High Court in Malaya has its principal registry in Kuala Lumpur, with other registries to be found in all states in Peninsular Malaysia, while the High Court in Sabah and Sarawak has its principal registry in Kuching, with other registries elsewhere in Sabah and Sarawak. There are in total 22 high court registries across all 13 states in Malaysia.[1] The two High Courts also travel on circuit to other smaller towns.

The two high courts, the Court of Appeal and the Federal Court are classified as superior courts, while the magistrates' courts and the sessions courts are classified as the subordinate courts. The high courts function both as a court of original jurisdiction as well as an appellate court, and are each headed by a chief judge (before 1994, chief justice). The chief judges of Malaya and Sabah and Sarawak are the third and fourth highest positions in Malaysian judiciary after the Chief Justice of the Federal Court (before 1994, the Lord President of the Federal Court) and the President of the Court of Appeal.[2]

High court registries in Malaysia

All high court registries and the subordinate courts found in Peninsular Malaysia including the courts in the Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya are under the jurisdiction of the High Court in Malaya. Similarly, all courts found in East Malaysia are under the jurisdiction of the High Court in Sabah and Sarawak including the courts in the Federal Territory of Labuan.

List of chief justices and chief judges

Johor Bahru High Court

Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Malayan Union (1946-1948)

1947–1948: Harold Curwen Willan[3]

Chief Justice of the Federation of Malaya (1957–1963)

  • 1957–1963: Tun Sir James Thomson

Lord Presidents of the Federal Court of Malaysia (1963–1994)

Chief Justice of Malaya [4] (prior to 1994, when the position was downgraded to Chief Judges of Malaya)

  • 1963-1966: Syed Sheh Barakbah
  • 1966-1968: Mohamed Azmi Mohamed
  • 1968-1973: Ong Hock Thye
  • 1973-1974: Mohamed Suffian Mohamed Hashim
  • 1974-1979: Pajan Sarwan Singh Gill
  • 1979-1982: Raja Azlan Shah
  • 1982-1984: Salleh Abas
  • 1984-1988: Abdul Hamid Omar
  • 1988-1992: Hashim Yeop Sani
  • 1992-1994 Gunn Chit Tuan

Some modern texts will refer to them as Chief Judges.[5]

Chief Judges of Malaya (since 1994)

  • 1994: Mohamed Eusoff Chin
  • 1994–1998: Anuar Zainal Abidin
  • 1998–2001: Wan Adnan Ismail
  • 2001–2002: Ahmad Fairuz Abdul Halim
  • 2002–2004: Haidar Mohamed Noor
  • 2004–2006: Siti Norma Yaakob
  • 2007–2008: Alauddin Sheriff
  • 2008–2011: Arifin Zakaria
  • 2011–2017: Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin
  • 2017–2018: Ahmad Maarop
  • 2018–2019: Zaharah Ibrahim
  • 2019–present: Azahar Mohamed

Borneo (North Borneo (Sabah) and Sarawak)

North BorneoSarawak
Chief Justice of North Borneo
(until 1951)
Charles Frederick Cunningham Macaskie CMG1934 to 1941 Chief Justice of Sarawak
Thomas Jamieson Laycock Stirling Boyd1930 to 1939
H. Thackwell-Lewis1939 to 1945
Japanese occupation1942 to 1945Japanese occupation1942 to 1945
Sir Ivor Llewellyn Brace1945 to 1951Robert Yorke Hedges1946 to 1951
Sarawak, North Borneo and Brunei
Chief Justice of the Combined Judiciary of Sarawak, North Borneo and Brunei
SirIvor Llewellyn Brace02009-10-01-031 December 1951 – 02009-10-01-0324 October 1952
SirErnest Hillas Williams JPc.1957
SirJohn Ainley MC02009-10-01-035 December 1959 – 02009-10-01-031 January 1963
SirWilliam Campbell Wylie QC02009-10-01-032 January 1963 – 02009-10-01-0315 September 1963
Sabah and Sarawak
Chief Justice of Borneo
SirWilliam Campbell Wylie QC02009-10-01-0316 September 1963 – 02009-10-01-0327 August 1965
Sir Tan SriPhilip Ernest Housden Pike QC02009-10-01-0311 September 1965 – 02009-10-01-0327 August 1968
Tan Sri Dato'Ismail Khan Ibrahim Khan02009-10-01-032 September 1968 – 02009-10-01-0331 December 1973
Tan Sri Datuk AmarLee Hun Hoe02009-10-01-031 January 1974 – 02009-10-01-0331 December 1990
Tan Sri Datuk AmarMohamad Jemuri Serjan02009-10-01-0311 March 1991 – 02009-10-01-0323 June 1994
Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak
(since 1994)
Tan Sri Datuk AmarMohamad Jemuri Serjan02009-10-01-0324 June 1994 – 02009-10-01-039 September 1994
Tan Sri Datuk AmarChong Siew Fai02009-10-01-0316 June 1995 – 02009-10-01-033 July 2000
Tan Sri Datuk AmarSteve Shim Lip Kiong02009-10-01-032 July 2000 – 02009-10-01-0325 July 2006
Tan Sri Datuk Seri PanglimaRichard Malanjum02009-10-01-0326 July 2006 – 02009-10-01-0311 July 2018
Tan Sri Datuk Seri PanglimaDavid Wong Dak Wah02009-10-01-0311 July 2018 – 02009-10-01-0319 February 2020
Tan Sri Datuk AmarAbang Iskandar Abang Hashim02009-10-01-0325 February 2020 – 02009-10-01-03present


Chief Justice of Singapore
(1963–1969 (as part of Malaysia, 1963–1965))
Tan SriWee Chong Jin1963 to 1969

See also


  1. "List of court addresses". Judiciary of Malaysia. Archived from the original on 23 October 2007. Retrieved 30 January 2008.
  2. "Operation of the court". Judiciary of Malaysia. Archived from the original on 9 July 2011. Retrieved 30 January 2008.
  3. "Supplement to the London Gazette, 12 June, 1947" (PDF). London Gazette. 12 June 1947. Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  4. "Assessing the Racial Composition of the Malaysian Judiciary | LoyarBurok". 11 February 2010.
  5. (2015) p.107, The Malaysian Judiciary Yearbook 2015, http://www.kehakiman.gov.my/sites/default/files/YearBook2015.pdf
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