THE SUPERIOR COURTS
This consists of the High Court of Malaya, the High Court of Sabah & Sarawak, the Court of Appeal and the Federal Court. The Federal Court is the highest court of the land.
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.
They hear matters relating to the validity or dissolution of marriage (divorce) and matrimonial causes, bankruptcy and companies winding up matters, guardianship or custody of children, grants probates of wills and letters of administration of deceased persons, injunctions, specific performance or rescissions of contracts, legitimacy of any persons and generally actions of which the claim exceeds RM250,000-00 (except motor vehicle accidents, landlord and tenant and distress). The High Courts have powers to hear all criminal matters.
Court of Appeal
Generally, the Court of Appeal hears all civil appeals against decisions of the High Courts except where against judgment or orders made by consent. In cases where the claim is less than RM250,000-00 or the judgment or order relates to costs only or against decisions of a judge in chambers on an interpleader summons on undisputed facts, leave of the Court of Appeal must first be obtained.
The Court of Appeal also hears criminal appeals against decisions of the High Courts.
All civil appeals from the Court of Appeal are heard by the Federal Court only after leave is granted by the Federal Court. The Federal Court also hears criminal appeals from the Court of Appeal only in respect of matters heard by the High Court in its original jurisdiction.
THE SUBORDINATE COURTS
This consists of the Sessions Courts, the Magistrates’ Courts and in West Malaysia the Penghulu’s Courts.
Generally, the Penghulu’s Courts hear civil matters of which the claim does not exceed RM50-00 and where the parties are persons of Asian race and speaking and understanding the Malay language. The Penghulu’s Court’s criminal jurisdiction is limited to offences of a minor nature charged against a person of Asian race of which is specially enumerated in his “kuasa” which can be punished with a fine not exceeding RM25-00.
The Magistrates’ Courts hear all civil matters of which the claim does not exceed RM25,000-00. Generally in criminal matters, the Magistrates’ Courts have power to try all offences of which the maximum term of imprisonment does not exceed 10 years or which are punishable with fine only but may pass sentences not exceeding 5 years imprisonment, fine not exceeding RM10,000-00 and/or whipping up to 12 strokes.
The Magistrates’ Courts also hear appeals from the Penghulu’s Courts.
The Sessions Courts hear all matters of which the claim exceeds RM25,000-00 but does not exceed RM250,000-00 except in matters relating to motor vehicle accidents, landlord and tenant and distress, where the Sessions Courts have unlimited jurisdiction. The Sessions Courts have powers to hear all criminal matters except for offences punishable with death and may pass any sentences allowed by law except the sentence of death.
Civil claims not exceeding RM5,000-00 where the party pursuing the claim is an individual (i.e. not a company or agent/assignee of debts) are brought before the Magistrates’ Courts pursuant to the small claims procedure where legal representations are strictly prohibited. You may fill in the Form 164 (Summons and Statement of Claim) which is available upon request at the Subordinate Courts Building by following the instructions found on the Form. You may also consult a lawyer but you cannot be represented by him at the hearing.
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