The Laws of Malaysia In A Nutshell

The Laws of Malaysia In A Nutshell

Jan 31, 2023Guest Post

What is Malaysia's law system?

Malaysia's legal system is based on the English common law system, with some modifications to accommodate the country's unique cultural and historical circumstances. The federal constitution is the supreme law of the land, and federal and state courts interpret and apply the laws. The highest court is the Federal Court, followed by the Court of Appeal, the High Court, and the Sessions Court. Islamic law, or sharia, is also recognized in Malaysia and is applied to Muslim citizens in some personal and family law matters.

What is Special about the Malaysian Law?

Malaysia's legal system is considered special because it incorporates elements from both the common law system and the Islamic legal system. This results in a unique blend of legal principles and practices that are not found in many other countries. Additionally, the recognition of Islamic law in Malaysia adds another layer of complexity to the legal system, as sharia principles and rules must be integrated with the common law in certain areas, such as family and personal law matters. This combination of legal traditions makes Malaysia's legal system unique and distinct from those of other countries.

The Malaysian Legal System explained brieflyHierarchy -Asklegal

Image cited from: AskLegal

The Malaysian law system is a hybrid system that combines elements of the common law system and Islamic law. It is based on the Federal Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land, and federal and state courts are responsible for interpreting and applying the laws.

The judiciary is independent, and the highest court is the Federal Court, followed by the Court of Appeal, the High Court, and the Sessions Court. The Federal Constitution provides for the protection of individual rights and freedoms, such as freedom of speech, religion, and assembly.

In addition to the common law system, Islamic law is also recognized and applied in Malaysia, particularly in personal and family law matters for Muslim citizens. The country has a parallel system of Islamic courts, and Muslim citizens may choose to have their cases heard by these courts.

The Malaysian legal system also recognizes the customary laws of Malaysia's various ethnic groups, and these laws may be applied in cases involving land and property rights, inheritance, and other cultural practices.

Overall, the Malaysian legal system is unique due to its blend of common law, Islamic law, and customary law, and its adaptation to the cultural and historical context of the country.

  • The common law system 

is a legal system that originated in England and is now used in many countries, including the United States, Canada, and Australia. It is based on the idea of judicial precedents, which means that court decisions and interpretations of the law create binding rules for future cases with similar circumstances. In a common law system, the role of the judiciary is crucial, as judges interpret and apply the law, and their decisions become binding precedents for future cases. This system also emphasizes individual rights and freedoms, and the importance of a fair and impartial legal process. The common law system is often contrasted with the civil law system, which is based on written laws and codes rather than judicial precedents.

  • The Islamic legal system

 also known as sharia law, is a religious legal system based on the principles of Islamic scripture and tradition. It governs various aspects of Muslim life, including personal conduct, family law, financial transactions, and criminal law. Sharia law is derived from the Qur'an, the Hadith (sayings and actions of the Prophet Muhammad), and Islamic jurisprudence, which involves the interpretation and application of Islamic law by scholars and judges.

In countries that have an Islamic legal system, sharia law is often integrated with the civil or common law system, but its application can vary depending on the interpretation and implementation by individual governments. Some countries apply sharia law in a strict and literal manner, while others have adapted it to meet the needs of modern society. However, the application of sharia law remains a controversial and divisive issue in many Muslim-majority countries and around the world.

Here are some ways one can use to learn more about the Malaysian legal system:

  1. Read relevant laws and regulations: The Federal Constitution, laws and regulations, and official legal publications can be found online or in libraries.

Book(s) that are written on the Malaysian Legal System:

Malaysian Legal System, 2nd Edition by Ashgar Ali

Malaysian legal system CLJ

The book 'Malaysian Legal System,' which has 36 chapters, covers the origins of the legal system in Malaysia before and during the British 'invasion' of the Straits Settlements, Malay States, and Borneo States. The sources of Malaysian law, the legislative process, the judicial doctrine of stare decisis at common law and Syariah, interpretation and construction of statutes, administration of justice, and the Legal Profession of the Civil and Syariah systems are all covered.


Malaysian Legal Systems: Questions and Answers by Tunku Intan

Malaysian Legal Systems: Questions and Answers by Tunku Intan

Readers can learn the fundamentals of the Malaysian legal system from Malaysian Legal System: Questions and Answers, including information on the country's primary sources of law, the monarchy and constitutional supremacy concepts, the separation of powers, the doctrine of judicial precedent, the court system, the legislative process, alternative dispute resolution, and more.

2. Attend legal workshops or conferences: Look for events in your area that focus on the Malaysian legal system or specific aspects of it.

3.Take online courses: Online courses or MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) may be available that cover the Malaysian legal system and related topics.

4. Join legal organizations or forums: Joining a legal association or participating in online legal forums can provide opportunities to learn from and connect with other legal professionals and experts.

5. Consult with a lawyer: Speaking with a qualified lawyer in Malaysia can be an excellent way to gain a deeper understanding of the country's legal system and how it works in practice.

It is also important to note that the Malaysian legal system can be complex, and it is always recommended to seek the advice of a qualified lawyer for any specific legal questions or concerns.


Further Questions 

1. What can a law graduate do in Malaysia?
  1. Practice law as a lawyer or advocate
  2. Work in a law firm
  3. Join the government legal service
  4. Work in a corporation or non-profit as in-house counsel
  5. Teach law at a university
  6. Pursue higher education (e.g. LLM, PhD)
  7. Enter politics or public service.

2. What is rule of law in Malaysia?

The "Rule of Law" in Malaysia refers to the principle that all persons, institutions and entities, including the government, are accountable to laws that are publicly disclosed, equally enforced and independently adjudicated, and which are consistent with international human rights norms and standards. It means that everyone is equal before the law and subject to the same protections, responsibilities, and obligations. It is a fundamental principle that underpins the country's legal and political systems.

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