Malaysian Legal System

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Table of Contents in the Asian Legal Encyclopedia

Malaysian Legal System in Asia

Malaysia is situated in Southeast Asia. The legal system of Malaysia is mixed (Muslim law +Common law + Customary law). The country has, therefore, an hybrid legal system of English common law, Islamic law and customary law. The judicial review of legislative acts in the Supreme Court of Malaysia is at request of the supreme head of the federation. Malaysia is a federal constitutional monarchy.

Legal Research in Malaysia: a Guide for Lawyers

In a globalized world, lawyers outside Malaysia may come into contact with Malaysian law, Malaysian lawyers or Malaysian clients, and the last would be better served when their lawyers have an understanding of the essential characteristics and aspects of the Malaysian legal system. Likewise, in researching Malaysian law, it is important for non-Malaysian lawyers not to limit their inquiry to their country sources. In addition, instead of looking for precedents, in Malaysia lawyers browse first the provisions of the corresponding legislation for an appropriate legal principle applied to the case or Malaysian law problem.

Any serious legal issue involving Malaysia must require consultation with a lawyer trained and licensed in Malaysia. International materials and resources, like this Encyclopedia, however, may provide some familiarity with the basic concepts of the Malaysian law, a solid starting point and new perspectives and solutions that are not apparent, sometimes, from within a non-Malaysian legal tradition. Their study may help the non-Malaysian lawyer to determine the general nature of a problem, and can facilitate a better understanding with the Malaysian colleague who may be called in to assist.

Where to Start

General Information about Malaysia and their Legal Tradition

Malaysia and their People

Read about Malaysia and their People here.

Historical Background of Malaysia

Overview of the history of Malaysia.

Legal Education

Offering a summary of the legal education, including law schools , in Malaysia.

Development of Malaysian Law

Report on the development of the law in Malaysia.

Structures of Malaysian Law

It offers a description of the structures of the law in Malaysia.

Sources of the Malaysian Law

Summary of the sources of Law in Malaysia.

Historical Background

More about the history of the Malaysian law here.

Enacted Law in Malaysia

Read more about the legislation in Malaysia.

  • The Malaysian Constitution

Learn more about the Constitution of Malaysia.

  • Malaysia Codes and Statutes

Survey of Malaysian Codes and Statutes.

  • Malaysia Statutory Decrees

Outline of the Malaysia Statutory Decrees.

  • Malaysia Regulations

Scope of the Regulations enacted in Malaysia.

  • Malaysia By-Laws

Observation about the By-Laws in existence in Malaysia.

Customary Law

Learn more about the customary law of Malaysia.

Case Law as a Source of Law

Analysis of the Case Law in Malaysia.

Precedents in Malaysia

Evaluation of the role of Precedents in the Malaysian legal system.

Doctrine in Malaysia

Review of the legal Doctrine in Malaysia.

International sources of law

See more about the international sources of law in Malaysia and Asia, including International Treaties.

The Malaysian Government System

Study of the Government system in existence in Malaysia.

Malaysian Constitutional Structure

Overview of the Constitutional Structure in Malaysia.

Historical Background

Read more about the history of the Government System of the country.

General Characteristics of the Constitution

Constitution of Malaysia: the main features.

Human Rights in Malaysia

Scope of the Civil and Human rights in the country.

Legislative Branch

The legislative branch proposes laws. Find a description of the Legislative Power in Malaysia here.

Structure of the Malaysian Legislative Branch

Observation of the structure of the legislative power in Malaysia.

Functions and Powers

See more about the role of the legislative power in Malaysia here.

Legislative Process

Read how the Malaysian legislative procedures work here.

Supervision of the Executive

Learn how the legislative branch supervises the executive branch.

Executive Branch

The executive power proposes laws. Read more.

Head of State in Malaysia

The head of state of Malaysia is the formal head of the executive, legislature and judiciary of Malaysia.

Head of Government in Malaysia

The head of government in Malaysia is the Prime Minister of Malaysia, the political leader of the government of Malaysia.

Malaysian Council of Ministers

See information about the Cabinet Ministers of Malaysia here.

Malaysian Local Governments

Review of the local government powers in Malaysia. See the definition of local rule here.

Local Organizations of Central Administration

The central administration consists of a number of ministries and other organizations, including local ones. Various departments, offices and divisions are established in each ministry in Malaysia. See the definition of centralization here.

Malaysian Municipalities

Outlook of the cities, towns, villages and other communities, including municipal courts (when applicable), and their legal authority in Malaysia.

Judiciary Branch

The judiciary power interprets and applies laws. Find here a review of the Judicial System in Malaysia.

Main Features of the Judiciary

Read the most important characteristics of the Judiciary system in Malaysia here.

Malaysia Judicial Structure

Report of the Court Organization and Jurisdiction in Malaysia.
The Courts in Malaysia may be divided into:

  • High Courts

Description of the functioning of high courts in Malaysia.

  • Lower Courts

Summary of the roles of courts of lesser rank.


Information about rules that influence sentencing in Malaysia.

Participants in the Administration of Justice

Survey about the players in the Administration of Justice in Malaysia and other countries.


Information about the impartial administration of justice, the independence and status of the judiciary and other issues related to Judges in Malaysia.

Public Prosecutors

The role of those government officials who represent, in Malaysia, legal authorities (often prosecuting criminal actions in Malaysia and Asia).

The practice of law

More about the practice of law in Malaysia and Asia.

The legal professions

Outline of the legal professions in Malaysia and Asia.

Practitioners (Lawyers and others)

Learn about the legal role of practitioners, specially lawyers.

Notary-Public in Malaysia

Overview about Public Notaries practising in Malaysia.

Court reporter – Clerks

Overview of Court reporters and Clerks in Malaysian and Asian courthouses.

Civil Law Procedure

Outlook of the main features of the Malaysian civil process, including:

Pretrial Proceedings in Malaysia

Information about what pretrial proceedings consist of.

The Trial in Malaysia

Review of the judicial examinations in civil or criminal actions in Malaysia.

Civil Litigation

Overview of the steps of litigation in Malaysia, the litigator’s role and the types of civil litigation in the country here.


Evidence law outline in Malaysia.

The Judgment

Outlook of the tribunal decisions in Malaysia. For Judgments which are of significance as legal precedents on points of law in Malaysia, see precedents.

The Effect of the Judgment

Overview of effects and recognition of a valid judgment delivered by a court of competent jurisdiction in Malaysia.

Legal Remedies in Malaysia

Enforcement of a legal right ordered by the court. See also the Judicial Relief definition.

Appeals – Judicial Review

Description of the Appeals process and the Judicial Review process of challenging the lawfulness of decisions in Malaysia.

Criminal Law Procedure

Observation of the Criminal Process.

The Investigation of Crime

Scope of the investigation of crimes:

The Prosecution of Crime

Crime Prosecution.

Criminal Trials in Malaysia

Laws and rules of the administration of justice when a person has been accused of a crime.

Appeals – Judicial Review

When a party files an appeal, asking to review the case:

Alternative Dispute Resolution in Malaysia

Method of resolving disputes out-of-court (ADR).

Private Law

Family Law in Malaysia

Guide to Marriage Law, Succession Law and other Family Law topics in Malaysia.

Contract Law in Malaysia

Contracts Law outline in Malaysia.

Tort Law in Malaysia

Regulating claims by civil wrongs that result in an injury or harm.

Property Law in Malaysia

Real property and Personal property law in Malaysia.

Copyright and Industrial Property

Survey of industrial and intellectual property laws in Malaysia.

Foreign Trade

Regulation of Foreign Trade in Malaysia and Asia.

Business Law in Malaysia

Besides commercial law and the law of corporations and other entities, this guide provides comprehensive information about:

Criminal Law in Malaysia

Penal law involves prosecution for a crime in Malaysia and Asia. Find out more.

Family Law in Malaysia

Family legal issues including:

  • Divorce and separation
  • Child protection, custody, support and access
  • Adoptions
  • Property Division

Public Law

More about Public Law here.

Administrative Law

Report of the branches of the Administrative law, including Environmental law.

Administrative Processes

Administrative Processing in Malaysia and Asia.


Taxation in Malaysia explained.

Labor Law

Overview of the labor law and social security in Malaysia.

Asia Legal Systems

Further Resources

History of the Malaysian Legal System

The Malaysian legal tradition has been shaped by many different influences, domestic as well as foreign. More than one different legal system has coexisted in Malaysia at various points in the long country history. The Portal of Malaysian law provides introductory entries about the background and history of the law of the country.

Malaysia Law Portal

The Malaysia Law Portal provides an introductory overview of the history of legal development in Malaysia, major legal concepts, the structure of Malaysian government, the Malaysian judicial and court system, and peculiar characteristic of the response of the Malaysian legal system to development in Malaysia.

The Malaysia Portal presents the main areas of its legal system and the wider aspects of how law is made and reformed. The entries of the Malaysia Law Portal include consideration of the primary features of the Malaysian legal system, including the Malaysian legal history, Malaysian judicial structure and operation, the Malaysian Constitution and the legislative and administrative structure and process. The contents of the Malaysia Portal also include discussion of Malaysian legal actors (including Malaysian lawyers), legal education, judges and other participants in the Malaysian legal landscape.

The Portal introduces legal professionals, students and the general reader to terms and concepts necessary for understanding the Malaysian legal system, the jurisdiction, organization and authority of courts in Malaysia, and the Malaysian judicial interpretation and decision-making. The substantive areas of law such as public law, torts and product liability, property (including intellectual property rights and copyright infringements), and family law are also covered. The Portal also treats the law governing the main business legal topics: contracts, business regulation, companies and taxation. It also examines the civil, criminal and administrative processes, the procedural rights, main court opinions and the various modes of alternative dispute resolution available in Malaysia.

Useful to the reader of the Encyclopedia as a reference, the Portal provides a table of cases, indices provides even greater detail, a glossary of selected legal terms and many entries provide bibliographies for further reading.

Comparative Law and Legal Systems in Asia

One of the goals of the comparative law is to wrap up the similarities and differences among countries, including Malaysia. the different legal traditions in Asia and could be able thereby better to understand the Malaysian law. to the reception of legal systems in Malaysia and other countries of Asia, with special reference to the reception of foreign law (specially English law and Islamic law) by these countries.

The Asian Encyclopedia of Law provides a survey of the legal systems of almost all the Asian jurisdictions. Being the Encyclopedia a work in progress, the length of the entries may vary considerably. Each country section includes a description of their major subject areas of law, notes on the main compilations (or official codifications), a detailed listing of legislation covering specific topics and resources for enacted laws and judicial decisions (including references to further online sources).

Conclusion about the Legal System of Malaysia

A good comprehension of the Malaysian legal system requires knowledge and skill in a number of disciplines. The Malaysian system itself is the result of developments in law, economy, politics, sociological change and the theories which feed all these bodies of knowledge. The law or Malaysia may be relevant in a foreign jurisdiction court proceeding involving international transactions. The Knowledge of the Malaysian traditions and its legal institutions allows a good understanding of the Malaysian law, its institutions and processes and sets the Malaysian law and system in a social context.

This guide introduces some of the main procedural and substantive Malaysian principles, with a more detailed treatment of resources in the major subject areas of the Malaysian law, with access to primary materials.

The general reader and students may learn some basic legal concepts and principles of the Malaysian law, to explain how the Malaysian legal system operates, and to provide a sense of how the systems within Malaysia have evolved historically in Malaysia from its origins.

A globally focused guide like this site, including the legal concepts and principles of Asia, cannot
avoid taking many culture-specific elements into account.

About the Author

Salvador Trinxet Llorca is a law writer, professor and lawyer specialized in comparative and international law.

See Also

References and Further Reading

  • Comparative law in a global context: the legal systems of Asia and Africa, Werner Menski
  • Asian legal systems: law, society, and pluralism in East Asia, Poh-Ling Tan
  • Philanthropy and law in Asia: a comparative study of the nonprofit legal systems in ten Asia Pacific societies, Thomas Silk
  • Law and legal institutions of Asia: traditions, adaptations and innovations, E Ann Black; Gary F Bell
  • Law, capitalism and power in Asia: the rule of law and legal institutions, Kanishka Jayasuriya
  • Asia-Pacific legal development, Douglas M Johnston and Gerry A Ferguson
  • Modern legal systems cyclopedia, Kenneth R Redden and William Emerson Brock
  • Constitutionalism in Asia: Asian views of the American influence, Lawrence Ward Beer
  • The judicialization of politics in Asia, Björn Dressel
  • East Asian Law: Universal Norms and Local Cultures
  • Law, Capitalism and Power in Asia: The Rule of Law and Legal Institutions
  • Doing Business in Asia (updated regularly)
  • Copyright Law and the Information Society in Asia
  • Insolvency Law in East Asia
  • Intellectual Property Law in Asia
  • A Legal Guide to Doing Business in the Asia-Pacific


  • Asia-Pacific Development Journal
  • Asia-Pacific Journal on Human Rights and the Law
  • Asian Law Journal
  • Australian Journal of Asian Law
  • Columbia Journal of Asian Law

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