Under the Federation of Malaya Agreement 1948, subordinate courts could be constituted by laws made under the Agreement. Such laws could also provide for appeals from such courts to the Supreme Court.
Where subordinate courts are concerned, section 88 of the Malaysia Act 1963 continued the subordinate courts of the Federation of Malaya and of Sabah and Sarawak until otherwise provided by federal law.
The Subordinate Courts Act (Extension) Order 1980 made under section 74 of the Malaysia Act 1963, extended the Subordinate Courts Act 1948 to Sabah and Sarawak with effect from 1st June 1981.
With the extension, certain changes were made in relation to the various courts in the two States. The Court of a Magistrate of the First Class and the District Court became the Sessions Courts, while the Courts of a Magistrate of the Second Class and of a Magistrate of the Third Class, as well as the Police Court, the Court of Small Causes and the Petty Courts were all renamed as the Magistrates’ courts.
Besides that, Magistrates and Magistrate of the First Class became Presidents of the Sessions Court, while Second Class and Third Class Magistrates became Second Class Magistrates.
On 22nd May 1987, the title of “President of the Sessions Court” was replaced with the title of “Sessions Court Judge” by amendments made by the Subordinate Courts (Amendment) Act 1987.