The Courts of Magistrates hear both criminal and civil cases in the first instances in all 4 districts of Brunei Darussalam (Brunei Muara, Tutong, Kuala Belait and Temburong)
Criminal Jurisdiction of Courts of Magistrates:
Chapter 6, Section 16.
“A Court of a Magistrate exercising criminal jurisdiction shall have the jurisdiction and powers conferred on it by the Criminal Procedure Code (Chapter 7) and any other written law”
Civil Jurisdiction of Courts of Magistrates:
Chapter 6, Section 17. (1)
“Subject to the provisions of this Act and any other written law and subject to the Rules of Court, a Court of a Magistrate shall have jurisdiction in every civil proceeding where the amount claimed or the value of the subject matter in dispute does not exceed the appropriate prescribed limit if —
- the cause of action arose in Brunei Darussalam;
- the defendant or any one of the defendants at the time of the institution of the proceeding resides or carries on business or has property or personally works for gain in Brunei Darussalam; or
- The facts on which the proceedings are based exist or are alleged to have occurred in Brunei Darussalam.
“Notwithstanding that the amount claimed or the value of the subject matter in dispute exceeds the appropriate prescribed limit, a Court of a Magistrate shall have jurisdiction in any proceedings for the recovery of immovable property, other than proceedings in which there is a genuine dispute as to a title registered under the Land Code (Chapter 40), where the rent payable in respect of such property does not exceed $500 per month or such other sum as may be prescribed by the Rules of Court in respect of any area specified in such Rules.”
“A Court of a Magistrate shall have no jurisdiction in proceedings —
- concerning any acts done by the order of His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan, or of His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan in Council, or of the head of any Government department, or of a Judge or another Magistrate
- for the recovery of immovable property where there is a genuine dispute as to a title registered under the Land Code (Chapter 40);
- for partition of immovable property;
- for the specific performance or rescission of contracts;
- for the cancellation or rectification of instruments;
- for the interpretation of trust instruments or the enforcement or administration of trusts;
- for the grant of probate or letters of administration in respect of any deceased person;
- for the interpretation of wills or the administration of the estate and effects of any deceased person;
- for declaratory decrees.”
“His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan in Council may by order amend any provision of this section.”
“In this section, “appropriate prescribed limit” means $10,000 or, in the case of the Chief Magistrate, $15,000:”
Provided that the Chief Justice may, with the approval of His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan, by notification published in the Gazette, increase the appropriate prescribed limit in the case of the Chief Magistrate or any other Magistrate.
It is governed by Children and Young Persons Act, Chapter 219. In reforming and reintegrating children and young person’s back into their families and community, the Juvenile Court continues its partnership with the Community Development Department and other stakeholders.
Jurisdiction of Juvenile Court:
Section 10 (1)
“Subject to the provisions of this section, no child or young person shall be charged with or tried in a summary way for any offence except by a Juvenile Court.”
Section 9 (2)
“Where a child or young person is charged with any offence triable only by the High Court, he shall be tried by the High Court unless —
- the Public Prosecutor applies to a Juvenile Court for it to try such offence; and
- the legal representative of that child or young person agrees to the offence being tried by a Juvenile Court.
Section 9 (3)
“Where a charge is made jointly against a child or young person and a person who has attained the age of 18 years, the charge shall be heard by a court of appropriate jurisdiction other than a Juvenile Court.”
Section 9 (4)
“Where, in the course of any proceedings before any court of appropriate jurisdiction other than a Juvenile Court, it appears that the person to whom the proceedings relate is a child or young person, the court may, notwithstanding subsection (1), proceed with the hearing and determination of the proceedings.”
Section 9 (5)
“A Juvenile Court shall have jurisdiction to try all offences which, but for subsections (1) and (2), would be triable only by a Court of a Magistrate, the Intermediate Court or the High Court.”
Section 9 (6)
“A person who has attained the age of 18 years on the date of commencement of the hearing of the charge shall not be tried by a Juvenile Court.”
Section 9 (7)
“Where in the course of any trial before a Juvenile Court, the child or young person to whom the trial relates attains the age of 18 years, nothing in subsection (6) shall prevent the Juvenile Court, if it thinks fit, from proceeding with the trial and dealing with the child or young person in accordance with the provisions of this Act.”
Section 9 (8)
“In this section, “legal representative”, in relation to a child or young person who is charged with an offence, includes any person assisting him in his defense to the charge.”
CORONER (CHAPTER 6)
Section 10 (1)
“His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan may appoint a fit and proper person to be a Coroner.”
Section 10 (2)
“A Coroner appointed under this section shall have power to act as a Magistrate for the purpose of discharging the functions of a Magistrate under Chapter XXX of the Criminal Procedure Code (Chapter 7) and all things done by a Coroner in the due discharge of such functions shall have the same validity and effect as if they had been done by a Magistrate; and as respects such functions a Coroner shall have the same powers and enjoy the same immunities as if he were a Magistrate.”
The Small Claims Tribunal Order came into force on 1st January 2012 and effectively began its operation on 1st January 2013.
Subordinate Court Act (Chapter 6)
Section 3. (1)
“There shall be within Brunei Darussalam the following Subordinate Courts with such jurisdiction as is conferred by this Act or any other written law —
- Courts of Magistrates;
- Juvenile Courts;
- Small Claims Tribunals.”
Section 3. (2)
“The Small Claims Tribunals shall have such jurisdiction as is conferred by the Small Claims Tribunals Order, 2006 (S 81/2006) or any other written law.”
Section 3. (3)
“Except as provided in the Small Claims Tribunals Order, 2006 (S 81/2006), no provision of this Act or the Rules of Court shall apply to a Small Claims Tribunal.”
Juvenile Court: Children and Young Persons Act (Chapter 219)
The Children and Young Persons (Amendment) Order, which came into effect on 1 March 2010, required the need to set up the Juvenile Court. The Juvenile Court was then established on 13 March 2011.
Section 9 (1)
Section 9 (2)
“The magistrate, when determining the method of dealing with a child or young person in respect of whom a written report is obtained by the Juvenile Court regarding his background, family history, school record or such other matters, shall sit with two advisers selected from a panel of advisers nominated by the Chief Justice, except that where it appears that the Court cannot without adjournment be fully constituted and that an adjournment would be inexpedient in the interests of justice, he may sit with one adviser or he may sit alone.”
Section 9 (3)
“Except as modified or extended by this Act, the provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code (Chapter 7) shall apply to a Juvenile Court as if that Court were a Court of a Magistrate.”
The Small Claims Tribunal Order, 2006
Establishment of tribunals.
Small Claims Tribunal has been in operation since 2013 in order to provide a quick and inexpensive forum for the resolution of small claims between a claimant and a defendant. The Small Claims Tribunal has jurisdiction to hear claims not exceeding $10 000 or such other sum as the Chief Justice may order.
The Small Claims Tribunal Order, 2006 provides for the matter to be heard in an informal manner and legal representatives are not allowed to be present during any proceedings of the Tribunal.
Section 3 (1)
“There is hereby established a tribunal or such numbers of tribunals to be known as the Small Claim Tribunals.”
Section 3 (2)
Section 3 (3)
Section 3 (4)
Section 5 (1)
“Subject to the provisions of this Order, a tribunal shall have jurisdiction to hear and determine –
(a) any claim relating to a dispute arising from any contract for the sale of goods or the provision of services; and
(b) Any claim in tort in respect of damage caused to any property.
Section 5 (2)
“The jurisdiction of a tribunal shall not extend to a claim –
(a) in respect of damage caused to any property by an accident arising out of or in connection with the use of a motor vehicle; or
(b) Which the subordinate courts have no jurisdiction to hear and determine.”
Section 5 (3)
Section 5 (4)
Section 5 (5)
Section 5 (6)
“Subject to the Limitation Act (Chapter 14), the jurisdiction of the tribunal shall extend to a claim which arose before the commencement of this Order.”
Appointment and qualification of adjudicator.
Section 4 (1)
“His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan may, on the recommendation of the Chief Justice appoint an adjudicator or such number of deputy adjudicators.”
Section 4 (2)
“No person shall be appointed to be an adjudicator or a deputy adjudicator unless he is a qualified person with the meaning of the Legal Profession Act (Chapter 132).”
Section 4 (3)
“Every person appointed as an adjudicator shall hold office for such term as may be specified in the instrument of his appointment and may be reappointed.”
Section 4 (4)
“Any appointment of an adjudicator made under subsection (1) may at any time be revoked by His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan on the recommendation of the Chief Justice.”
History of Law and Courts Building
The Law and Court Building started operating on 5th May 2006. The building currently houses part of the Attorney General’s Chamber as well as the Intermediate Court and the Subordinate Court which includes The Magistrate Court, The Juvenile Court and The Small Claims Tribunal.
The Intermediate Court Officers
Under the Intermediate Court, there are –
- Intermediate Court Judge;
- Chief Magistrate;
- Acting Chief Magistrate, and
- 6 Magistrates
Established in February 2016, the Commercial Court aims to increase the efficiency of disposing commercial cases within the Intermediate Court jurisdiction, through:
- Speedier resolutions
- Fostering innovation within judicial process
- Attracting foreign direct investments
This will ensure that cases for both local businesses and foreign investors are handled by an efficient, robust, reliable, and professional legal system. In addition, a court process, namely Case Management Conference (CMC) was introduced, for the court to be proactive in:
- Ensuring parties abide by set timelines;
- Narrowing issues;
- Facilitate in the discussions with the aim of an amicable settlement; and
- Ensuring that parties comply with court orders and/or directions.
Through the CMC, the court also offers parties the option of an alternate dispute resolution in the form of Mediation. Judicial Officers are trained to become a credited mediator. Currently, there are 6 accredited mediators.
Statistics for Commercial Court as at November 2016; Out of 155 registered cases,
- 70% of suits arose out of breaches under banking and financial services.
- The remaining 30% of suits concerned disputes under the sale and delivery of goods, breaches in development projects, breaches in tenancy agreements and sale and purchase of commodities.
- 77 cases resulted in entry of Judgment in Default of Appearance and/or Judgment in Default of Defense.
Commercial Court will hear cases of –
- A business document or contract;
- The export or import of goods;
- Insurance and re-insurance;
- Banking and financial services;
- The operation of markets and exchanges;
- The purchase and sale of commodities;
- Business agency.
Note: Existing rules in the RSC (Rules of the Supreme Court Act Chapter 5) and Intermediate Courts Act Chapter 162 shall apply.
The Intermediate Court judges can hear claims that do not exceed BND 300,000 and can only hear certain types of cases as provided for in the Intermediate Courts Act, Chapter 162
Section 14 (1):
“…Intermediate Courts shall have in the exercise of their civil jurisdiction original jurisdiction in every action where the amount claimed or the value of the subject-matter in dispute exceeds $50,000 but does not exceed $300,000 or such higher sum as the Chief Justice may prescribe by order published in the Gazette, if –
- The cause of action arose in Brunei Darussalam;
- The defendant or any one of the defendants at the time of the institution of the action resides or carries on business or has property or personally works for gain in Brunei Darussalam; or
- The facts on which the action is based exist or are alleged to have occurred in Brunei Darussalam.
Section 14 (2):
Intermediate Courts shall have jurisdiction to try any action where the amount claimed or the value of the subject-matter in dispute consists of a balance not exceeding $300,000 or such higher sum as the Chief Justice may prescribe by the order published in the Gazette after a set-off of any debt or demand claimed or recoverable by the defendant from the plaintiff, being a set-off admitted by the plaintiff in the particulars of his claim or demand.
Section 14 (3):
Intermediate Courts shall have no jurisdiction in any action –
- Subject to section 15(3) and (5), for the recovery of immovable property or where there is a dispute as to a title registered under the Land Code (Chapter 40);
- For the interpretation of a trust instrument, the execution or administration of a trust or for a declaration that a trust subsists;
- Subject to section 16, for the grant or revocation of probate or letter of administration in respect of the estate of a deceased person;
- For the interpretation of a will or, subject to section 17, for the administration of the estate of a deceased person;
- For a declaratory decree, except in interpleader proceedings under section 18;
- Wherein the legitimacy of any person is in question;
- Wherein the guardianship or custody of a minor is in question;
- Wherein the validity or dissolution of any marriage is in question.
Section 14 (4):
A judgment of an Intermediate Court shall, except as provided by this Act, be final and conclusive between the parties.”
- The Intermediate Court judge handles offences punishable with imprisonment that does not exceed 20 years and can impose whipping and fine. The Intermediate Court does not have the jurisdiction to hear capital punishment cases or death penalty cases.
- Section 13 (1):
“…Intermediate Courts in exercise of their criminal jurisdiction shall have (concurrently with the High Court) all the jurisdiction, powers, duties and authorities as are vested, conferred and imposed on the High Court in the exercise of its original criminal jurisdiction.
- Section 13 (2):
For the purpose of subsection (1), such written laws shall be construed subject to such modifications as may be necessary to bring them into conformity with this Act.
- Section 13 (3):
Intermediate Courts shall not have any jurisdiction:-
- In respect of any offence punishable with death or with imprisonment for life; or
- To impose a period of imprisonment longer than 20 years in respect of any offence
- Section 13 (4):
In any trial before an Intermediate Court in which it appears after the conviction of the accused that a period of imprisonment longer than 20 years should be imposed in respect of the offence, the Intermediate Court may commit him to the High Court for sentence.
- Section 13 (5):
On a committal of an accused under subsection (4), the Intermediate Court may remand him in custody pending the sentence of the High Court which shall have the power to sentence him in accordance with the law under which he was found guilty by the Intermediate Court
- Section 13 (6):
Where the High Court and Intermediate Courts have concurrent jurisdiction in respect of any prosecution or processing. The Public Prosecutor or any person expressly authorized by him in writing shall direct in which of those Courts they shall be instituted:
Provided that, subject to this Act, section 189 of the Criminal Procedure Code (Chapter 7) shall apply to an Intermediate Court as it applies to the Court of a Magistrate.”