KUALA LUMPUR: The judiciary has reduced the number of backlog cases since certain reforms were introduced eight years ago.
Chief Justice Tun Md Raus Sharif said the Judicial Reforms were initiated by former Chief Justice Tun Zaki Tun Azmi when he was first appointed as the Chief Justice in 2008.
He said the reforms had a great impact in transforming the Malaysian Judiciary to what it is today.
“At his elevation ceremony as the Chief Justice, Tun Zaki declared an all-out war against delays in settlement of cases and resolved to speed up the justice delivery system,” said Raus during the Malaysian Press Insititute’s Luncheon Talk with him here today.
Raus also said Zaki’s stand to reform the Malaysian judiciary was also to correct the negative perception which had been plaguing the system over the years.
“The initial reform program was aimed at finding the best solution to dispose the old cases and at the same time to expedite the hearing of new cases.
“Within three months, there were signs of success and realising this, Zaki decided to reform the program throughout the Peninsular,” said Raus.
Among the reforms introduced were the Key Performance Indicators for judges (number of cases a judge must hear in a day).
To address backlog of cases, fast tracking of cases was introduced which was divided into Track A (Affidavit-based and Interlocutory matters), Track T (Trial Cases), pursuing a strict no postponement policy (Only postpone when there is a death or near death situation), computerisation of court rooms and establishing specialist courts, in particular the New Commercial Court (NCC).
“When the NCC was fully established, we had judges clearing concurrently the old and new cases.
“For new cases in the NCC, we set a time line of disposal within nine months of registration. To be able to do that, the cases were subjected to vigouros case management. Performance of the judges was regularly monitored.
“The results were astonishing. Most cases, about 95 to 98 per cent of the NCC cases were disposed within nine months. Cases which exceeded the nine months were disposed in a year.”
As of Sept 31, Raus said there were only 818 cases pending in the Commercial Court of which 711 were cases from 2017, 72 were from 2016 and only 35 cases were pre-2016 cases.
“I was informed by the Managing Judge of the Commercial Division that 96 per cent of the cases are being disposed within the time line of nine months. "This is a milestone in the history of our judiciary and an achievement to be proud of.
“Not even Singapore cases can match our performance in disposing commercial cases. Their timeline is 18 months,” he said.
Raus said three years from the time the Malaysian judiciary started its reforms, it succeeding in clearing a substantial number of old cases and due to this, the courts' efforts were well documented which earned the system accolades in the World Bank reports in 2011.
The Malaysian judicial system was also recommended by the World Bank for adoption by judiciaries facing similar problems and among countries which visited and adopted the practice were Sri Lanka, Thailand, Brunei, Nepal, Swedan and Taiwan.
He said that the implementation of e-court project in 2009 also helped in clearing the backlogs within a short period of time.
“No doubt we have made a good progress thus far, but reform is a continuous process. Our immediate concern is to dispose old cases which are more than a year or longer, while on long term, I intend to concentrate on the capacity building through continuous Training of Judges,” he said.
Raus acknowledged that judicial transformation was a continuous journey and needed to take into account the changing needs of business community and the society.
“The public must have confidence on the ruling and the decision that we make. This can only be achieved when the decision or ruling made by the judges are free from interference or influence.
“Justice must not only be done, but also seen to be done,” he said.