Online Civil Trials in Malaysia: The Positives and Negatives

This is a guest post by Joshua Wu. It is one of the 3 articles selected to be published on TML following our open call for submissions. We would like to thank everyone who sent in their articles. We hope to see more quality legal writing published, which will hopefully lead to vibrant discussions and thought leadership in the Malaysian legal industry.

Malaysia’s Judiciary has proposed amendments to the civil procedure rules for online civil trials by remote communication technology. As detailed below, online civil trials can have positive effects but with possible weaknesses as well.

On 23 April 2020, the Malaysian Judiciary made history as it live streamed a Court of Appeal hearing. The live stream was opened to the public and was done so on the Judiciary’s website and YouTube channel.

The anticipated next step is the introduction of online civil trials. This is not a unique phenomenon as courts in other jurisdictions, such as China and the United Kingdom, have experimented with online trials. Indonesia has also recently announced that it will be embracing online trials.

The move towards holding online civil trials in Malaysia is already in motion. The Judiciary has proposed amendments to, among others, the Rules of Court 2012. Some of the key amendments will allow for:

  1. proceedings through remote communication technology;
  2. a person or witness to give evidence through remote communication technology; and
  3. the examination, cross-examination, and re-examination of a person or witness through remote communication technology.

Some of the positives and negatives associated with holding online civil trials in the Malaysian context will be briefly examined. Continue reading