Opening Legal Year 2024: Federal Court of Malaysia stresses judicial independence, clarity in law
15 January 2024

Federal Court of Malaysia held Opening Legal Year 2024 at the Putrajaya International Convention Centre (PICC) on Monday, January 15. The event was an annual event by the Federal Court of Malaysia. It highlighted various legal challenges that Malaysian law enforcement authorities faced as well as latest international legal issues.


The event began with a speech by the President of the Malaysian Bar, who also represented the Sabah Law Society and Advocates Association of Sarawak. In her speech, she expressed support for Palestine. Next, Attorney General Datuk Ahmad bin Mohd Salleh and Chief Justice Tun Tengku Maimun binti Tuan Mat also delivered their speeches.


Chief Justice Tun Tengku Maimun stressed that the judiciary is independent and judges may not bow down to political interests. Therefore, any acts of intimidation toward judges to influence their stance in any legal case—such as threats and manipulation of reports—must be considered unlawful deliberate attempts to influence judges.


Chief Justice Tun Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat has reminded judges and all officers of the court to not unnecessarily depart from judicial precedent, especially if it concerns "well-settled" principles of the country's law.


Speaking to the legal fraternity at the Opening of the Legal Year 2024 here, Tengku Maimun said the individual opinion of a judge is not relevant, due to the principle of stare decisis (to stand by things decided).


"The Federal Court, being the apex court, must continue to remember that it cannot depart too easily from precedent, especially if a previously decided authority is questioned not so long after it was decided.


"The Federal Court cannot afford to be inconsistent as that interferes with the public who organises their affairs upon legal clarity and certainty," she said, adding that lower courts need to also abide by precedents set by higher courts.


"Even if a judge or court believes a decision of the higher court to be wrong, he is under the obligation to abide by it," she said.


This year, the Federal Court of Malaysia invited judicial institutions and law enforcement associations from neighboring countries such as Indonesia, New Zealand, Singapore, China, Taiwan, and Brunei Darussalam. Malay culture was reflected throughout the event where Malay music was played throughout. Traditional Malaysian instruments were played at the law enforcement officials’ grand entrance.