A Supreme Court with unlimited civil and criminal jurisdiction, consisting of a High Court and a Court of Appeal, was established under the Federation of Malaya Agreement 1948.
The Supreme Court was replaced by the Federal Court and three High Courts of coordinate jurisdiction, namely the High Court in Malaya, the High Court in Singapore and the High Court in the Borneo States. After Singapore’s departure from Malaysia on 9 August 1965, only the High Court in Malaya and the High court in the Borneo States remain.
The High Court in Malaya and the High Court in Sabah and Sarawak are each presided over by the Chief Justice of the respective Court. Their respective designation was changed to “Chief Judge” by the amendments made to the Federal Constitution by Constitution (Amendment) Act 1994.
Initially, the High Court in Malaya consisted of the Chief Justice (now Chief Judge) and not less than 4 and not more than 2 other judges. The High Court in Sabah and Sarawak consisted of the Chief Justice (now Chief Judge) and not less than 4 and not more than 8 other judges. Parliament was given the power to increase the number of judges.
Presently, the maximum number of judges is 60 for the High Court in Malya and 13 for the High Court in Sabah and Sarawak. Additionally, Judicial Commissioners have been appointed, over the years, for both High Courts to facilitate the disposal of case.