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October 10, 2014

During the British Colonial era, particularly from 1947 to 1955, the Native Courts under-went a tremendous reform. The passing of the Native Court Ordinance, 1955 [Cap. 43] was a major developments in the evolution of the Native Courts. When Sarawak gained her independence through the formation of Malaysia in 1963, the right of each State in the Federation of Malaysia to constitute the Native Courts was firmly enshrined in the Ninth Schedule, List III, to the Federal Constitution.

Because of some social and cultural changes of the natives brought about by rapid social, economic and political development in the State, the Native Courts Ordinance, 1955 [Cap. 43] Ordinance was found to be riddled with many deficiencies. The then Native Courts system had an unsatisfactory appellate system because of lack of records kept by the lower courts that could give rise to protracted litigations. There were huge backlog of cases before the Resident’s Native Court and District Native Court. The Residents and District Officers, who presided over these courts, respectively, were engaged in other administrative and official matters. Therefore, there was an urgent need to relieve the Residents and the District Officers from their judicial duties. Also, there was a need for the Native Courts to be streamlined to enhance the development, interpretation and the enforcement of native laws and customs. Therefore, in 1992 the Native Courts system and procedure was again reformed through the passing of the Native Courts Ordinance, 1992 and the Native Courts Rules, 1993. The 1992 Ordinance and 1993 Rules came into force on 1 June 1993. The Ordinance and Rules came into effect on 1 June 1993. A major development brought about by the reform in 1992 was the establishment of the Central Registry Office at Kuching and the 31 District Offices through out the State became the Native Courts registries. The District Officer of the District, in the absence of any person being appointed by the State Secretary, performs the duties and functions of the Registrar of the Native Courts for the District.