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History of Kuala Lumpur Court


The Kuala Lumpur Court Complex is the most important Court building complex in the institution of the Malaysian Judiciary. The building that now stands majestically on Jalan Tuanku Abdul Halim (formerly known as Jalan Duta) is the largest Court Complex in Malaysia and the second largest in Asia.


The Kuala Lumpur Court Complex brings together three types of Courts under one roof, namely the High Court, the Sessions Court and the Magistrates’ Court.


History of Kuala Lumpur Court

The history of the location of the Kuala Lumpur Court originates from five main buildings in the capital city of Kuala Lumpur. Originally, the High Court, the Sessions Court and the Magistrate's’ Court were each located in a separate buildings.


The buildings that witness the history of the Kuala Lumpur Courthouse are the Sultan Abdul Samad Building, the Wisma Denmark Building, the Court Hill, the ‘Bangunan Kayu’ on Jalan Duta and Dewan Bandaraya Building also known as City Hall Building.


Around 1978, the Federal Court and the Kuala Lumpur High Court operated in the Court Building located on Jalan Raja, which is which is located near to Masjid Jamek, Kuala Lumpur.


In 1984, the Federal Court was then located in the Sultan Abdul Samad Building, which is also located on Jalan Raja (formerly known as Gombak Road) and faces Dataran Merdeka and Selangor Royal Club. In conjunction with the location of the Federal Court in the Sultan Abdul Samad Building, the name of Jalan Belanda behind the building has been changed to Jalan Mahkamah Persekutuan.


The foundation stone of Sultan Abdul Samad's building was laid by the Governor of the Straits Settlements, Sir Charles B. H. Mitchell K.C.M.G. on 6 October 1894. The British Resident in Selangor at that time was W. H. Treacher C.M.C. AfterOnce it was fully completed, this building was inaugurated by the Resident General of Selangor, namely Sir Frank Swettenham K.C.M.G. on 4 April 4, 1897.


The purpose of the construction of this building was originally for the British administrative office in Selangor which at that time needed a new headquarters to administer govern the state. Prior to that, the state capital of Selangor was located in Klang with its position distant from the developed area of Kuala Lumpur.


Sultan Abdul Samad who was the ruler of Selangor from 1857 to 1898 agreed to make Kuala Lumpur as the state capital of Selangor. Among others, the offices located in the building are the Government Secretariat (G.S.O); State Council Meeting Room (Council Chamber); Post office; Sanitary Board; Judicial Office (Judicial Commissioner); Audit and Treasury Department; Land Office; Department of Mines; and the District Office of the Public Works Department (P.W.D. District Office).


Construction work was carried out by the Public Works Department (P.W.D). This building was designed by an English architect, named Arthur Charles Alfred Norman around 1893 to 1897. Norman spent time on the African continent and was inspired by mosques in India such as the Taj Mahal which hads led to the Moorish architectural features in the Sultan Abdul Samad Building. Charles Edwin Spooner acted as planner and State Engineer whileand the Director of P.W.D is R. A. J. Bidwell A.B. Role Hubback who was responsible to provide plans and design drawings.


The idea and design of the Sultan Abdul Samad Building was actually started as early as 1889 after W. E. Maxwell took over as British Resident in Selangor. Kuala Lumpur as the state capital of Selangor at that time only had only shop buildings and few government buildings that were not prominent. Maxwell had brought C. E. Spooner from Ceylon with the help of Bellamy and A.C. Norman. The original design submitted by Norman was simply a building with a concept ofn English Classical Rennaisance concept. Bidwell was responsible for adapting Islamic architecture (Mahometan style) as a pillar of the building's characteristics and design of the building after Spooner was less thannot satisfied with the original design presented by A.C. Norman.


The construction period took 2 years and 7 months. A brick factory was built at Brickfields to supply building materials such as 4 million bricks, 2,500 barrels of cement, 18,000 bushels of lime, 5,000 lb of copper, 50 tons of steel iron and 30,000 cubic feet of wood. The quality red bricks which were of quality were also brought from India. Among others, the small contractors who brought these bricks wasas Ghouse from Chittagong, India (now known as Bangladesh). These bricks were brought directly through the Kelang River and anchored at a base located near to the current Masjid JamekJamek Mosque.


This two-story building bearing Cardova and Egyptian characteristics building also ishas 17.5 meters in the height of 17.5 meters with a clock tower of 41.5 meters high and covers an area of 10,200 square meters. Its construction design is Soracenic based on Moghul and Moorish architecture. The windows and doors are arched like the mosques in Cordova and Egypt. The main features of this building are the three domes, the large clock tower and the arcade and its wide arches. The three domes which were originally made of wood and bricks painted black have been replaced with copper coated domes.



The dome that sits above the large clock tower is flanked by two smaller domes with descending spiral staircases. The central dome is quite unusual because it is a fusion of the two traditional features of dome and kiosk. This clock tower is maintained and repaired from time to time as it is the central clock throughout Malaysia. This clock tower resembles the Big Ben in the City of London.

In the early stages, this Sultan Abdul Samad building was known as the New Government Offices. When the Federation of Malaya was formed in 1948, this building was named as the Federal Secretariat. In 1974, all the offices of the Selangor State Government were moved to Shah Alam while the offices of the Federal Government of Malaysia were moved to Jalan Duta, Damansara. In addition, the name of this building was also been changed to the Sultan Abdul Samad Building in conjunction with the name of the Sultan of Selangor who ruled from 1857 to 1898 and this name remains until today.


Around 1977, the location of the Sessions Court and the Kuala Lumpur Magistrate's’ Court of Kuala Lumpur was moved to the ‘Bangunan Kayu' located onat Jalan Duta. In 1989 after 12 years, the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court was moved to the City Hall Building, while the Magistrate's’ Court continued to operate in  the ‘Bangunan Kayu'.


In March 1992, a fire broke out in the Courth House located at Jalan Raja. At the time, the building had just been vacated to allowfor renovation work to be carried out to add another thirteen Magistrates' Courts. In December of the same year, a second fire occurred in the building which was said to be caused by a short circuit. The incident had destroyed most of the court rooms, Jjudge's Cchambers, file rooms and libraryies. However, the memorial plaque commemorating the services of Jjudges, lawyers and legalaw officers who passed awaydied during the Second World War survived and is now placed in the Judicial Museum at the Palace of Justice, Putrajaya. After the incident, the location of Criminal, Commercial, Civil, Family, and Appellate and Special Powers Divisions of the High Court's Criminal, Commercial, Civil, Family and Special Powers Appeal Division was moved to the Sultan Abdul Samad Building.


In addition to the fire incident, and the flood disaster that hit Sultan Abdul Samad Building, Court Building onin Jalan Raja and City Hall Building around 1971, 1998 and 2003 had also destroyed the files and legal journals. The flood incidents occurred due to the amount of heavy rain coupled with the drainage system that was not very satisfactory around Kuala Lumpur, which at that time was loaded with rapid development projects. FurthermoreIn addition, the meeting of the Klang River and the Gombak River behind the building which also causeds the river to overflow when it raineds heavily.


The establishment of the Malaysian Court of Appeal of Malaysia in 1994 saw its initial placement in part of the General Post Office Building. In 1995, all the Magistrate's’ Courts located in the ‘Bangunan Kayu’ on Jalan Duta were moved to the City Hall Building while the location of Commercial, Civil, Family, Appellate and and Special Powers Divisions of the High Court of Commercial, Civil, Family and Special Powers that were located in the Sultan Abdul Samad Building were also moved to Wisma Denmark , Jalan Ampang.


In 1997, the location of the two High Courts of the Criminal Division was moved back to the Court Building ion Jalan Raja. In 2000, the Appellate and Special Powers Court of Appeal, Special Powers and the Family Court located in Wisma Denmark Building, Jalan Ampang were also moved to the Building of Kraftangan Malaysia Building located oin Jalan Sultan Hishamudin.


On 23 October 2003, the location of the Federal Court and the Court of Appeal was moved to the Palace of Justice in Putrajaya. The magnificent building of the Palace of Justice is one of the most beautiful buildings in terms of its unique design and is a major landmark in Putrajaya.


After the move of the Federal Court and the Court of Appeal to the Palace of Justice, the placement of the eight High Courts of the Commercial Division that had been moved to Wisma Denmark Building were returned relocated back to the Sultan Abdul Samad Building and the General Post Office Building.

Transfer to Kuala Lumpur Court Complex, Jalan Duta


Through the implementation of the seventh Malaysia Plan, Kuala Lumpur Court Complex was built on a land of 30 acres on Jalan Duta, Kuala Lumpur. The complex, worth 270 million ringgit, began construction on 1 March 2004 and was officially handed over by the Public Works Department Malaysia to the Legal Affairs Division, Prime Minister's Department on 17 April 2007. Relocation of the High Court from Sultan Abdul Samad Building, Wisma Denmark Building and the Building of Kraftangan Malaysia to the Kuala Lumpur Court Complex was implemented in stages starting from April 2007. It was subsequently followed by the relocation of the Sessions Court and the Magistrates’ Court.


The Kuala Lumpur Court Complex was fully in operation on 3 May 2007 and was inaugurated by the Thirteenth Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin Ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Mahmud Al-Muktafi Billal Shah on 28 August 2007.


The integrated, symmetrical and balanced design of this complex building reflects the image of the Court as a strong, stable, fair and powerful institution. The features of classical architecture such as the use of large pillars, wide stairs, raised ground floor level and stone finish further strengthen the image of the Court.


Its strategic location surrounded by government offices, Masjid Wilayah Kuala Lumpur and also MATRADE Building makes the Kuala Lumpur Court Complex one of the attractions and the focus of the public either in or outside the country. As early as its opening, this complex has received visits from delegations from various foreign countries such as Kazakhstan and Indonesia.


This eight-storey Court complex houses 84 courtrooms, namely 32 High Court courtrooms, 24 Sessions Courts and 18 Magistrates' Courts and 10 other courtrooms. The architecture of this complex in the shape of the letter 'U' reflects the aspirations of the Judiciary in supporting and defending the rule of law.


In addition, this complex building also includes administrative office, meeting room, mediation centre, library, service counters, prayer room, cafeteria, bank, media room, video conference room, lawyer's room, Deputy Public Prosecutor's room, witness room, court police office as well as lockup, childcare center and others. 


There are also parking spaces provided in the building and around the Court area for the uses of Judges, court officers and staff, lawyers and the public.

High Court

The establishment of new courtrooms has greatly helped in expediting the administration system of the Kuala Lumpur High Court.


Division of High Courts in the Kuala Lumpur Court Complex

The High Courts in Kuala Lumpur have been divided into several main Divisions as follows, to ensure the efficiency of specialisation (subject matter expert):

  • High Court - Criminal Division

Consists of –

  • High Courts (Criminal)
  • High Court - Civil Division

Consists of –

  • High Court (NCVC)
  • High Court (OCVC)
  • High Court (Special Powers Division)
  • High Court (Family)


High Court - Commercial Division

Consists of

  • High Courts (NCC)
  • High Court (Intellectual Property)
  • High Court (Muamalat)
  • High Court (Admiralty)
  • High Court (Insolvency)
  • High Court (Construction)


The High Court of New Commercial Court (NCC) and the High Court of New Civil Court (NCvC) were each established on September 2009 and October 2010 respectively based on the system of registration and distribution of cases in a cycle. This establishment is an initiative to trade industry of the country in an effort to dispose of commercial and civil cases in a shorter period of time and to ensure a quick and effective remedy in every claim filed in court.


For High Court (NCVC), prior to 3 February 2022, there were 10 High Courts where all these High Courts were classified as High Court (NCVC) and accepted registration of cases in turns. However, a restructuring was made and from 3 February 2022 onwards there is an increase of Courts from 10 to 12 Courtrooms of High Court (Civil) which comprise of 6 High Courts (NCvC) and 6 High Courts (OCvC).


A decision has been made where only 6 High Courts (NCVC) will be accepting new registration of case from February 2022 onwards and other 6 High Court (Civil) will be regarded as OCVC and no longer accept new registration of case as they are responsible for handling all cases registered prior to February 2022 for Writ and Land Reference code from all the NCVC Courts.


The decision does not apply for High Court (Special Powers Division) and High Court (Family) as both are still accepting the filing of new cases on daily basis before this (no cycle was implemented).


The High Court (Admiralty) was established on the 1 October 2010 as a special Court in handling claims related to shipping and Maritime and Aviation Law.


On 17 July 2007, the Court for intellectual property was introduced in collaboration with the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs.


The High Court (Construction) was introduced in collaboration with the Malaysian Construction Industry Board (CIDB) and was inaugurated on 14 April 2014 by YAA Tun Arifin Zakaria, the 13th Chief Justice.


On 2017, the High Court (Insolvency) was created following the steps taken by the government in reviewing and amending the bankruptcy and insolvency law.

There are 12 Sessions Courts and 8 Magistrates’ Courts handling all the civil cases. 

The Court’s first mediation centre was established in Kuala Lumpur Court Complex on 1 April 2011 as the result of an idea of the then Chief Judge of the High Court in Malaya, YAA Tan Sri Arifin bin Zakaria after his Lordship realised that the mediation process may greatly contributes to the saving of time, energy and costs for all parties involved in disposing of cases that have been filed in Court. The Mediation Centre accepts all civil cases which were referred by the High Courts and Subordinate Courts in the following circumstances:

  • (a) When Judges or Judicial Officers find that the case may be referred to Mediation Centre;
  • (b) upon request of any party in the dispute/case; and
  • (c) automatically referred for cases involving running down cases.

There are 5 High Courts, 12 Sessions Courts and 10 Magistrates’ Courts in the Kuala Lumpur Court Complex.


In an effort to improve the smoothness and access to the criminal justice system, special Courts have been established in the Kuala Lumpur Court such as the Specialised Session Court of Corruption, Specialised Session Court of Coroner, Specialised Session Court of Cyber, the Magistrates’ Court of Traffic and the Court of Children.


On the other hands, some new features in managing and administering criminal justice system have also been introduced by the Malaysian Judiciary and have been widely used in the Kuala Lumpur Court. Among others, the new features are:

  •  e-PG where the proceedings of taking plea of guilty and plea of mitigation for cases of traffic offense can be done online without requiring the physical presence of the offender in Court;
  • e-Jamin where the process of the payment of bail for the accused can be made online or in cash through Cash Deposit Machine (CDM);
  • e-Denda where the payment of court-imposed fine can be made online;
  • e-Bicara where the proceedings of hearing of appeal and application in criminal cases can be done paperless and without requiring physical records or documents in Court;
  • e-Rekod Rayuan where the preparation of record of appeal for criminal cases can be done paperless using the Case Management System (CMS)


Research Division

Research Unit of Kuala Lumpur High Court was established on 29 April 2019 specifically for Criminal Division of High Court Kuala Lumpur.

The main objective of this establishment is to assist Judges and Judicial Commissioners of the High Court in relation to research, especially for high-profile and public interest cases. From December 2020 onwards, the job scope of Research Unit was extended to the Special Powers Division as well as the Civil Division.



Digital Technologies

Under the administration of the 12th Chief Justice, Tun Zaki Bin Tun Azmi, various reforms and initiatives had been introduced in an effort to improve the administrative and delivery system of courts throughout Malaysia. The involvement and role of the Kuala Lumpur Court in responding to the reformative mission that the Judiciary intended to implement could be seen through various pilot projects that had been initiated and implemented in Kuala Lumpur Court.

In 2008, Kuala Lumpur Court Complex became the pioneer in the project of e-Kehakiman system which was later expanded to the Courts in other states. Under this e-Kehakiman system, four main components had been introduced, namely Court Management System (CMS), Court Recording Transcription (CRT), Queue Management System (QMS) and e-Filing System (EFS).

Through CRT system, all the trial proceedings will be audio-visually recorded and saved digitally. Under the CMS system, all case files, documents and minutes of Court proceeding will be saved digitally and can be accessed from any location at any time through internet. QMS system may enable lawyers and the public to register their presence for cases in the Court and to expedite the case calling system for case management. EFS system helps in the filing of documents in relation to a particular case by electronic means by the stakeholders without physically presence or through the counter in the Court.


In December 2018, e-Review system was introduced and be implemented in Kuala Lumpur Court Complex where all the case management for civil cases was conducted online without the need for the lawyers to be physically present in the Court. The implementation of this system was later extended to other Courts.


Some new additional features in the e-Kehakiman system have been implemented in the Kuala Lumpur Court such as the e-PG system in the Kuala Lumpur Magistrates’ Court of Traffic which allows the taking plea of guilty and plea of mitigation for traffic offense cases to be done online without requiring the offender to be physically present in the Court and also the e-Bicara system which was implemented in Kuala Lumpur High Court (Commercial and Civil Division) which involves hearing of proceedings and case trials conducted through remote communication technology.


Besides that, the implementation of new systems such as e-Jamin which involves the process of payment of bail by way of electronic means for criminal cases and e-Lelong system which enables online bidding of auctioned properties has been widely used in Kuala Lumpur Court.


The Covid-19 pandemic that hit the country and the whole world in 2019 is a challenge to the Legislature and the Judiciary (Badan Perundangan dan Kehakiman). Various initiatives had been taken to ensure that the administration and delivery of the justice system is not affected and can be carried out. Among others, the initiatives taken are by conducting the court proceeding via online in Kuala Lumpur High Court, hearing of applications via e-mail platform in  Kuala Lumpur High Court (Commercial), conducting trial proceedings via video conferencing in Kuala Lumpur High Court (Intellectual Property) and conducting the long call proceeding (admission of advocates and solicitors) via video conferencing and hybrid for High Court (Special Powers Division).


Until today, Kuala Lumpur Court still maintains these methods of remote communication technology as an alternative to the existing physical proceedings.

On 24 February 2017, the Kuala Lumpur Court had received the Recognition Award: Federal Court of Malaysia Year 2016 from Permodalan Nasional Berhad (PNB) for the achievement of the Kuala Lumpur High Court (Power of Attorney Division) in managing and completing applications of power of attorney related to share capitalisation which had soared high in the economy of the country at that time.