Article 121(1B)

(a) Appellate jurisdiction – to determine appeals (civil and criminal) from the decisions of a High Court or a judge thereof;

(b) Such other jurisdiction as may be conferred by or under federal law



(a) Appellate jurisdiction (Article 128(3)) – to determine appeals from the Court of Appeal and the High Court.

(b) Exclusive original jurisdiction (Article 128(1)) – to determine (a) any question on the validity of law made by Parliament or by the legislature of a state; and (b) disputes on any other question between states or between the Federation and any state.

(c) Referral jurisdiction (Article 128 (2)) – to determine any question that arises before any court as to the effect of any provision of the Constitution.

(d) Advisory jurisdiction (Article 130) – to provide and pronounce its opinion on reference made by the King on any question as to the effect of any provision of the Constitution which has arisen or appears to His Majesty likely to arise.

History of Building

History of Building

History of its building

The Court on Court Hill

In 1880’s, the first court building in Kuala Lumpur was built on the Weld Hill (also known as Court Hill). It housed the Supreme Court and the Subordinate Courts.

The Supreme Court Building

In 1909, the Supreme Court was moved from Court Hill to the newly constructed Court Building at the corner of Jalan Raja. The Subordinate Courts remained at Court Hill.

The Sultan Abdul Samad Building

In 1984, the Supreme Court (later renamed as the Federal Court) and the High Courts, except the Criminal High Courts, officially moved into the Sultan Abdul Samad Building. The Sultan Abdul Samad Building was named after the Sultan of Selangor, Sultan Sir Abdul SamadibniAlmarhum Raja Abdullah who reigned from 1857 to 1898.

Designed by the state architect, A.C Norman, the construction of the building started in 1893 and it was completed in 1896. Its exterior architecture was based on the Moorish style, a mixture of European function and Islamic form.

Courts Building in Jalan Duta

The Subordinate Courts in Kuala Lumpur were relocated from Court Hill in the 1970’s to temporary wooden premises at Jalan Duta. Several years later, the Sessions Courts moved to the buildings located around the Supreme Court Building. The Magistrates’ Courts continued to sit at the wooden premises.

The City Hall Building

In 1995, the Magistrates’ Courts housed in the wooden premises in Jalan Duta were relocated to the City Hall Building, Jalan Raja.

The General Post Office Building

In 1990, the Judiciary moved into this building to accommodate the need for more space for the courts. By 1992, it was fully occupied by the Judiciary. The Court of Appeal was partly placed at the General Post Office Building after it was established in 1994.

Wisma Denmark

In 1995, due to the expanding Judiciary and thus the need for more space for courtrooms, the Judiciary rented seven floors of a twenty-two storey building known as “Wisma Denmark” to house the High Court (Commercial Division), the High Court (Family Division) and the High Court (Appellate and Special Powers Division)

Istana Kehakiman

On 11 August 1999, the Government made the decision to relocate the Federal Court and the Court of Appeal to Putrajaya, to be housed in a new building to be named as the “Palace of Justice”. In August 2007, the building was renamed as “Istana Kehakiman”.

Upon its completion in 2003, the Federal Court and the Court of Appeal were relocated from the Sultan Abdul Samad Building to the Palace of Justice.

This building houses 2 Federal Courts, 6 Courts of Appeal, the Chief Registrar’s Office, 2 registries for the Federal Court and the Court of Appeal (as required under Articles 121(1B) and 121(2)), a conference hall, a library and a museum.

The Palace of Justice’s design incorporates influences of classical Islamic culture like the Taj Mahal in India, Moorish culture like the Sultan Abdul Samad Building in Kuala Lumpur and Western Classical influence, like the Palladian. Ar. Ahmad Rozi A. Wahabof AQidea Architect was commissioned by the Government as the architect to design the Palace of Justice.


Coffee Table Book of the Palace of Justice

History of its Development

History of its Development

The Supreme Court was established in accordance with the First Charter of Justice in 1807 by the British. Under the Second Charter of Justice in 1826, a centralised judiciary was established for the Straits Settlements. The Third Charter in 1855, separated the court into two divisions: Penang and Malacca was one, with Singapore as the other.

In 1868, the Judiciary became a separate authority from the Executive when the Supreme Court of the Straits Settlements was established. In 1878, the subordinate courts were established. The subordinate courts included the Magistrates’ Courts and Coroners’ Courts.

Johor was the first Unfederated Malay State to make provisions for appeals to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in 1921. In 1946, the Courts Ordinance was introduced and the title of subordinate court was changed to lower court.

A Supreme Court with unlimited civil and criminal jurisdiction, consisting of a High Court and a Court of Appeal, was established under the 1948 Agreement. Decisions of the Court of Appeal could be further appealed to the Privy Council.

The coming into existence of the Federal Constitution is in accordance with the independence of the Federation of Malaya in 1957. In 1963, the Federal Constitution maintained the appeal provisions to the Privy Council. However, changes can be seen in appeals from the lower courts.

The Supreme Court was replaced with the Federal Court and two High Courts having the same power and jurisdiction. In 1965, Singapore opted out from Malaysia. However, the High Court of Malaya and High Court Borneo remained. In 1994, some changes were made to the present judicial system:

  1. A three-tier system was introduced

  2. Double appeal process was created

  3. The title ‘Lord President’ was changed to ‘Chief Justice’

  4. The jury system was abolished in 1995



The Malaysian Judiciary – A Perspective

Overview of Malaysia’s Judicial System

Overview of Malaysia's Judicial System

Vision, Mission and Motto


Towards judicial excellence by 2020.



To sustain fairness, quality, transparency and efficiency of the judicial administration in accordance with the federal constitution and laws.



Towards judicial excellence.