Amendments to the Courts of Judicature Act 1964
The Courts of Judicature (Amendment) Bill 2020 was passed by the Dewan Rakyat (the House of Representative) on 26 August 2020. This Bill seeks to amend the Courts of Judicature Act 1964 (“Act”) that would allow court proceedings in the Federal Court, the Court of Appeal and the High Court (“the Courts”) to be televised live or through video streaming or using any other electronic communication media.
Remote Communication Technology – A New Way to Conduct Court Proceedings
“Remote communication technology” is a new definition stipulated in section 3 of the Act.
It is defined as “a live video link, a live television or any other electronic means of communication”.
The aim of this amendment is to enable the Courts to conduct civil or criminal proceedings online as illustrated in the new section 15A.
Obtaining further evidence and receiving statements via remote communication technology by the Court of Appeal is also allowed under the amendment of subsection 69(1).
These amendments, however, do not affect evidence by 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 Rules of Proceedings via Remote Communication Technology
The purpose of the rules of court is to regulate the procedures in the proceedings.
New paragraph (aa) in section 16 of the Act has now included the purpose of the rules of court is also to regulate the rules for proceedings through remote communication technology.
Chief Registrar of the Federal Court as the New Rules Committee
Rules Committee is empowered to make the rules of court under section 16.
This appointment is to replace the Senior Judge of the Sessions Court of Kuala Lumpur pursuant to amendment of subsection 17(2)(f) of the Act.
Chief Justice is Empowered to Issue Practice Directions
Practice Directions are to be issued by the Chief Justice in carrying into effect the provisions of the Act through the new section 17B.
Provided that it is made after consultation with the President of the Court of Appeal or the Chief Judge before issuing practice directions.
Overall, further scrutiny will be required to ensure testing issues are minimised. These relate to some aspects of technology, financial allocation and assurance over the security system to be adopted in conducting the proceedings.
The amendments to the Act are welcomed as it may overcome any forms of situation, including the pandemic that is facing the world now by giving optimum access to justice using technology to bridge the social distancing gap.