Online Hearings & Virtual Courts Are Here To Stay Says Chief Justice

The crucial change in law to allow for the use of remote communication technology for hearings has been made.
(credit: Tingey Injury Law Firm / Unsplash

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Virtual court hearings are now a permanent feature of the Malaysian judicial system, said Chief Justice Tun Tungku Maimun Tuan Mat during her speech at the opening of the Legal Year 2022 in Putrajaya today.

Parliament has affirmatively intervened to expressly allow for online hearings irrespective of consent but subject still to the interests of justice.

There is no room for dispute as to the propriety of the method given that this shift is not unique to Malaysia.

Chief Justice Tun Tungku Maimun Tuan Mat.

Previously, when the pandemic hit in March 2020, proceedings were forced online, however, there was no clear rule that online hearings or trials are allowed by the order of the court.

With the insertion of Section 15A of the Courts of Judicature Act (CJA) 1964, courts may now, by law, conduct civil or criminal proceedings through remote communication technology.

The adoption and acceptance of remote communication technology have been a boon to all, despite the technical and accessibility issues.

The screen-sharing technology, we find, assists us with reference to documents and the level and nature of advocacy has improved irrespective of whether counsel before us is senior or junior.

We also think that remote hearings have made life easier for lawyers who have been relieved from having to waste time on travel.

Chief Justice Tun Tungku Maimun Tuan Mat.

She added that technology has effectively removed “the grandiose nature of the courts”, and has made it more accessible to both the public and lawyers.

For this to be possible the judiciary has invested a greater amount in technology in terms of hardware and software all thanks to the funds allocated by the executive arm of the country.

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