Malaysian Courts Hierarchy

The judiciary in Malaysia is mostly centralized and is influenced heavily by the English Common law.  Basically there are two major types of trials which are criminal trials and civil trials.  Starting from the Federal Court, there exists a hierarchy court structure in the country which means that the power and responsibilities keep decreasing as we move down the hierarchy pyramid.

The superior courts in the country are the federal court, court of appeal and high courts whereas the subordinate courts are made up of the sessions court the magistrate court and other courts. To understand this hierarchy better, you can go through the following information.

Malaysian courts hierarchySuperior Courts

Federal Court

This is the highest court in Malaysia and hears appeals of civil decisions of the court of appeal where the federal court gives the permission. This court also hears criminal appeals but only on those cases when first the High court has exercised its original jurisdiction in the matter.

Court of Appeal

This is that court which hears all civil appeals against the verdict of the high court. It also hears appeals of criminal decisions of the High court.

High Courts

There are 2 high courts in Malaysia which have revisionary and general supervisory jurisdiction over the subordinate courts. These courts have unlimited civil jurisdiction and also in criminal matters besides matters related to the Islamic family & law.  Some matters which a High court may hear are custody of children, legitimacy of persons, matrimonial clauses, bankruptcy and matters related to winding up of businesses or companies, grants of probate and injunctions etc.

Subordinate Courts

The magistrates’ courts as well as the Sessions courts in Malaysia have jurisdiction in both civil and criminal matters. The following is the hierarchy of subordinate courts:

Sessions Courts

These are those courts in Malaysia which are somewhat similar to the former Quarter Sessions in England. However, there is an exception in matters which are related to landlord and tenant distress, vehicle accidents etc.

Magistrates Courts

Magistrates in Malaysia are divided into First Class and Second Class Magistrates. In the case of criminal matters, the first class magistrates courts have power to try all offences where the maximum imprisonment term does not exceed 10 years.

Other Courts

The Court of a Penghulu or Malay Village Head hears all the cases related to civil matters. The criminal jurisdiction of such a court in Malaysia is limited to the offences of a minor nature.