Covid-19: The Effects of the Conditional Movement Control Order on Court Proceedings

The Senior Minister and Defence Minister, YB Dato’ Sri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, had on 12 October 2020 announced the enforcement of a Conditional Movement Control Order (“CMCO”) in Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and Selangor with effect from 14 October 2020 to 27 October 2020.
In line with the Government’s announcement of the CMCO, the Chief Registrar of the Federal Court of Malaysia issued a media statement on 13 October 2020 titled “Notice of Handling of Cases in Courts in the Federal Territory of Putrajaya, the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur and the State of Selangor in line with the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) from 14 October to 27 October 20201 to provide guidance to lawyers, litigants and members of the public on court operations in these affected areas during the CMCO period.
The following notes provide a summary of the guidelines pertaining to the court operations in the Federal Court, Court of Appeal and all courts in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur, effective from 14 October 2020 until 27 October 2020:
  1. Suspension and Postponement of Hearings of All Civil and Criminal Cases
  • The Chief Justice had ordered that a previously issued guideline on 17 March 20202 be applied.
  • In summary, all trials and hearings of all ongoing civil and criminal cases will be suspended and postponed.
  • Filing of new civil cases, notices of appeal and documents will be carried out as usual through the Court’s e-filing system. However, where e-filing is unavailable, new cases and documents can only be filed after 27 October 2020. For urgent cases to be filed at the Sessions Court, filing can be carried out at the nearest court where e-filing system is available.
  • Any Case Managements for civil cases which are scheduled to take place via the Court’s e-Review system will proceed as usual via online. However, for cases where physical attendance in Court is required, the Case Management will be postponed to a further date to be fixed.
  • Applications which are supported by a certificate of urgency will be processed by the relevant Court Registrar who will seek directions from the relevant judge or in the case of a lower court, the State Court Director.
  1. Operations at Offices and Counter Services at the Courts
  • The Chief Justice had ordered that a previously issued guideline on 3 May 2020 be applied. This guideline had listed court services that would be in operation from 4 May 2020 (which, presumably, will now refer to 14 October 2020).
  • The following services will be operational:
  1. Registration Counters;
  2. One-Stop Centres;
  3. Commissioners for Oaths Counters;
  4. Powers of Attorney Counters;
  5. E-Filing Services Bureau Counters; and
  6. Finance and Management Divisions, at all Cost and Responsibility Centres.
  1. Online Hearings
  • The directive issued also states that online hearings for court proceedings will adhere to the guidelines which were issued on 26 March 20203 and 24 April 20204.
  • In summary, parties in civil cases can apply for online hearings through e-Review system, exchange of e-mails and/or video conferencing provided that consent of parties are obtained.
  • Proceedings that can be heard online are:-
  1. Hearings at the Federal Court and Court of Appeal.
  2. Proceedings in the High Court and the Subordinate Court in Peninsula Malaysia. Ex-parte or inter partes applications must be filed together with a certificate of urgency.
  3. Proceedings in the High Court and the Subordinate Court in Sabah and Sarawak which include mentions, applications, trials, appeals, mediation, case management, clarifications and decisions where a date has been fixed.
  • All applications for hearing via video conferencing must be emailed to the court at least three days before the date of hearing or as otherwise directed by the court.
Alert prepared by Karen Tan (Associate) of Skrine.

1 A copy of the media statement is available here.
2 See our earlier e-Alert dated 30 March 2020 here.
3 See our earlier e-Alert dated 30 March 2020 here.
4 See our earlier e-Alert dated 27 April 2020 here.