Magistrates' Courts of Malaysia

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The Magistrates' Courts in Malaysia are divided into:

  1. First Class Magistrates' Courts, where the presiding magistrate is legally qualified and has greater powers.
  2. Second Class Magistrates' Courts, where the presiding officer is a Justice of Peace who is not legally qualified. They are now not normally appointed.

The Courts sit everyday, except on public holidays.

2.  Jurisdictions: The Magistrates' Courts have jurisdiction to hear:

  • Criminal: First Class Magistrates' Courts generally 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 they may only pass sentences of:
    • not more than 5 years' imprisonment'
    • a fine of up to RM10,000; and/or
    • up to 12 strokes of the cane.
  • Civil: The Magistrates Courts hear all civil matters with less than RM25,000 in dispute.
  • Appeals from the Penghulu's Courts.

Within the Magistrates Court, there is a small claims procedure to deal with claims that do not exceed RM5,000. For these small claims, the procedure is less formal and legal representation is not permitted (unless the party is a company).

3.  Appointment of Magistrates: In each of the states, magistrates are appointed by the respective State Authority, on the recommendation of:


For the Federal Territories, magistrates are appointed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, on the recommendation of the respective Chief Judge. There is a Magistrate's Court in most towns in the country. At present, there are 151 magistrates throughout Malaysia.[1]

4.  Court for Children: A court for children was established under the Child Act 2001 which defines "child" as: [1]

  • a person under the age of 18 for non-criminal proceedings;
  • a person who has attained the age of 10 for the purposes of criminal proceedings.

Under the Act, the Court shall consist of a magistrate and shall, as the case may require, be assisted by 2 advisors. No other person shall be present in any sitting of this court, except:

  • members and officers of the court; and
  • the children who are parties to the case, including their parents or guardians.

If a child is found guilty of an offence, he shall not be imprisoned, but among others, may either be sent to an approved school or released on bail. For capital offences, the child shall be detained in prison at the pleasure of the Ruler.[1]