Supreme Court of Malaysia

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The Sultan Abdul Samad Building where the Supreme Court of Malaysia (1985-1994) was housed.

The Supreme Court of Malaysia was the name of the highest court and the final appellate court in Malaysia that was used between 1985 and [1994]]. Established in 1957 during Malaya's independence as the "Federal Court of the Federation of Malaya" and then as the "Federal Court of Malaysia" when the Federation of Malaysia was formed in 1963, it was called the "Supreme Court of Malaysia", when appeals to the the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council were abolished in 1985. As part of reforms, the court was once again renamed the "Federal Court of Malaysia" in 1994. Previously housed in the Sultan Abdul Samad Building in Kuala Lumpur when it was called the Supreme Court, it is now housed in the Palace of Justice in Putrajaya.

2.  Judges: The Supreme Court was composed of:

All judges are appointed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong on the advice of the Prime Minister of Malaysia, and retire mandatorily at the age of 65.

3.  History: The earliest predecessor of the Supreme Court was the Court of Judicature of Prince of Wales' Island (now Penang), Singapore and Malacca, which was established on 27 November 1826. 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. Following the reconstitution of the Straits Settlements as a Crown colony on 1 April 1867, the Court of Judicature was replaced by the Supreme Court of the Straits Settlements, with the Governor and Resident Councillors ceasing to be judges of the Court.

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. As a result of legislation passed in 1885, the Supreme Court consisted of the Chief Justice and three puisne judges. In 1907, the Court was significantly altered and divided into 2 divisions, one exercising original civil and criminal jurisdiction, and the other appellate civil and criminal jurisdiction.

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, except that the Supreme Court of the Straits Settlements became known as the Supreme Court of Singapore. The courts of Penang and Melaka 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", replacing the various Courts of Appeal and headed by a Lord President of the Federal Court, with 3 High Courts, each headed by a Chief Justice, under its jurisdiction::

  1. High Court in Malaya;
  2. High Court in Singapore; and
  3. High Court in Borneo.

The merger, however, did not last and in 1965, Singapore left the Federation of Malaysia and became an independent republic.

Until 1985, the Federal Court remained the 2nd highest court in the land, being subordinate to the Privy Council in England. 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. 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".