In brief

On 26 August 2020, the Dewan Rakyat (House of Representatives) passed three bills ("Bills") to amend the Courts of Judicature Act 1964, Subordinate Courts Act 1948 and Subordinate Courts Rules Act 1955 (collectively, the "Acts").

These amendments will empower the courts to conduct proceedings virtually with the use of remote communication technology.


Contents

Comments

The unprecedented outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic has catalysed the advancement of the Malaysian Judiciary into the virtual space. The Bills are necessary to continue push on with the administration of justice. Further directions and/or amendments to the Rules of Court will be likely to further facilitate this change.

In more detail

  • The Bills introduces the use of "remote communication technology" which is defined as:-
    1. a live video link;
    2. a live television link; or
    3. any other electronic means of communication.
  • Given the broad definition above, "remote communication technology" may be construed to include all forms of electronic medium, with or without visual presentation.
  • Under the Bills, the court may, in the interest of justice, conduct any civil or criminal proceedings through a remote communication technology.
  • Any such proceedings held through cyberspace, virtual place or virtual space is deemed to have been carried out within the local limits and jurisdiction of the courts.
  • The proposed amendments, however, would not affect the provisions relating to evidence by a child witness by means of a live link under the Evidence of Child Witness Act 2007 and evidence by a protected witness under the Criminal Procedure Code and the Evidence Act 1950.
  • The Bills will also empower the Chief Justice to issue practice directions as may be necessary in respect of the conduct of the virtual proceedings after consulting the President of the Court of Appeal or the Chief Judge. Such practice directions are necessary to address various administrative, logistical and/or technological issues or concerns which may arise in such proceedings.

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