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The High Courts of Malaysia

In Malaysia there are two High Courts having coordinate jurisdiction and status, that is the High Court in Malaya and the High Court in Sabah and Sarawak. The High Court in Malaya consists of a Chief Judge and 47 judges whilst High Court in Sabah and Sarawak consists of a Chief Judge and 10 judges.

The High Court functions both as a court of original jurisdiction (i.e the jurisdiction over first instance cases) as well as an appellate court.


Civil jurisdiction

The High Court has jurisdiction to try all proceedings where –

(a) the cause of action arose;
(b) the defendant or one of several defendants resides or has his place of business;
(c) the facts on which the proceedings are based exist or are alleged to have occurred; or
(d) any land the ownership of which is disputed is situated.

The High Courts also have specific jurisdiction including any written law relating to–

(a) divorce or matrimonial causes;
(b) bankruptcy or companies;
(c) matters of admiralty;
(d) guardians of infants and keepers of the property of infants;
(e) guardians and keepers of the person and estates of idiots, mentally disordered persons and persons of unsound mind; and
(f) grant and revocation of probates of will and testaments, and letters of administration of estates of deceased persons.

Criminal jurisdiction

The High Court has jurisdiction to try all offences committed–

(a) within local jurisdiction;
(b) on the high seas on board any ship or on any aircraft registered in Malaysia;
(c) by any citizen or any permanent resident on the high seas on board any ship or on any aircraft;
(d) by any person on high seas where the offence is piracy by the law of nations; and
(e) offences under Chapter VI of the Penal Code and those offences of extra-territorial in nature.

The High Court may pass any sentence allowed by law. Cases involving capital punishment (e.g death penalty) are tried in the High Court.


The High Court has the power to hear appeals from the subordinate courts. However not all decisions of the subordinate courts are appealable to the High Court. The High Court shall not hear any appeal from a decision of a subordinate court in any civil matter where the amount in dispute or the value of the subject matter is RM10,000 or less, except where it involves a question of law.

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