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April 25, 2017

Organisation Structure of the Native Courts

The present Native Courts is a State legal institution created under the Native Courts Ordinance, 1992.

The organisational structure of the Native Courts is virtually divided into two sections, namely the administration and finance section and the judiciary section. The Head Office is the Central Registry located at Lot 11010 Block 59, Muara Tuang Land District, Jalan Dato' Mohd. Musa, 94300 Kota Samarahan, Sarawak. The registry offices, together with the courts, are located at 40 District Offices and 26 Sub-District Offices.

The administration of the Native Courts is headed by the Chief Registrar. He is assisted by 40 District Officers who are for the time being discharging the duties and functions of the Registrar for their respective District.

At the Central Registry, the Chief Registrar is assisted by an Administrative Officer, a Secretary, four Office Assistant and two drivers. At every District, the Native Courts rely on the support of the District Office's staff. A District Officer is usually assisted by a clerk and an office assistant. However, in some Districts an administrative officer is assigned to assists the District Officer on Native Courts matters.

In the judiciary section, there are six classes of Native Courts. The courts having original jurisdiction are:-

   (a)   the District Native Court;

   (b)   the Chief's Superior Court;

   (c)   the Chief's Court;

   (d)   the Headman's Court.

The Resident's Native Court is having original jurisdiction only on matters relating to the applications by non-bumiputera who wish to be identified as members of the bumiputera of Sarawak.

The appellate courts are:-

   (a)   the Native Court of Appeal; and

   (b)   the Resident's Native Court

At the moment there are three (3) District Native Court Magistrates and two (2) Resident's Native Court Magistrates. The Magistrates are attached to the Central Registry at Kuching and travel  throughout the State to hear cases.

The President of the Native Court of Appeal has been appointed since 2009.

The Resident of the Division

The Resident of a Division is having the supervisory powers over all cases in his Division. He has the power to stop any proceeding which he thinks would likely to disturb the public peace. He may examine any proceedings or judgment to ascertain its propriety or legality, and if he finds the proceedings or judgment is improper or illegal or has resulted in a miscarriage of justice he may, among others, order a case to be reheard "de nova" (a new trial).

The Resident may appoint presiding officers in certain circumstances and determine the panel of Assessors for every District within his Division.

The Central Registry Office

The Central Regisry at Kuching was established under rule 33 of the Native Courts Rules, 1933 and began its operation on 1 June, 1993.

The Central Registry Office (Central Registry) was first located at a government quarters called Sri Muhibbah at Jalan Taman Budaya, Kuching. The office moved to the 1st Floor, Electra House, Power Street, Kuching on 1st February and remained there until 31 December 2003. On 1st January 2004 it moved to the 4th Floor, Bangunan Binamas, Jalan Padungan, 93100 Kuching, Sarawak.

The Central Registry is maintained by the Chief Registrar.

Members of the Administrative Staff

The Chief Registrar is the head of the administration and management of the Native Courts' Central Registry Office at Kuching and having the general charge and supervision of all the Registrars and shall establish and maintain at Kuching a Central Registry Office.

At the moment he is supported by an Assistant Administrative Officer, an Administrative Assistant, a Secretary, three Administrative Assistants, a Junior Administrative Assistance and two drivers.  Since 2010 a Special Administrative Officer has been posted to assist the Chief Registrar with the administration of the Central Registry and training of the Ketua-Ketua Masyarakat in judicial proceedings.


There are 5 Magistrates attached to the Central Registry.  Of which 3 are the Magistrates of the District Native Courts, while the other 2 are the Magistrates of the Resident's Native Court.


A Registrar of the Native Courts for any place, or District, or Division shall be appointed by the State Secretary, upon the recommendation of the Chief Registrar [r.33(4) of the Native Courts Rules, 1993].

At the moment, no person has been appointed as Registrar. As such, the District Officer or the Administrative Officer in charge of a District shall have and may exercise all the powers by these Rules conferred on a Registrar [r.33(5) of the Native Court Rules, 1993].