Notes of Meeting between the Kuala Lumpur Bar Members with the Managing Judges of the Kuala Lumpur High Courts on 16.07.2009

Meeting between the Kuala Lumpur Bar Members with the Managing Judges of the Kuala Lumpur High Courts

Date : 16.07.2009 (Thursday)
Time : 4.30 pm
Venue : Anggerik Meeting Room, Level 6, Kuala Lumpur
Court Complex, Jalan Duta.

The meeting was called to order at 4.30 pm.
Agenda 1: Cross Examination in Writing

Members raised the issue of the direction given by YA Dr Hamid Sultan that cross examination was to be in writing and exchanged in advance. Dr Hamid stated that only cross examination questions relating to “peripheral issues” need to be in writing and exchanged. These “peripheral issues” were those that would normally be supplied by way of interrogatories which is a procedure which is no longer utilized. Dr Hamid postulated that such a practice would save up to 80% of trial time. Dr Hamid further stated that this option to provide written cross-examination questions was in any case not mandatory.

Dato’ Cecil Abraham stated that he was not against interrogatories but this procedure should be adopted at the case management stage rather than at trial.

Mr Tommy Thomas stated that such a procedure would lead to lawyers preparing the answers to the cross examination questions and a suspicion that witnesses would be coached by their lawyers. He was also of the view that in complex commercial matters, this procedure would not be suitable. He did not discount the possibility that such a procedure may be appropriate in the most basic civil claims, for instance, in running down matters.

Mr Anand was concerned that although this procedure may be an option now, it may eventually lead to it being compulsory. He pointed out that witness statements in relation to examination in chief were initially intended to be optional as well, but has now, for all practical purposes become mandatory.

Mr Nitin Nadkarni, whilst conceding that interrogatories do shorten the trial period, raised the concern that the answers to these written cross examination questions would inevitably lead to lawyers drafting answers to the same. He echoed Mr Tommy Thomas’s view that there would be a danger of witnesses been coached.

Mr Sanjeev Kumar was of the view that quite frequently judges pick up the main issues in dispute during the cross examination stage. He also noted that it was unclear as to whether the answers to the cross-examination questions would only be exchanged at the day of the trial, as under the present procedure adopted by YA Dr Hamid Sultan, only the cross examination questions would be exchanged in advance.

Hj Murad Ali Abdullah was in support of Dr Hamid’s proposal, He was of the view that the procedure would save time and shorten the trial period.

Dato’ James Foong proposed that Dr Hamid’s procedure on cross-examination be raised at the Judges Conference.
Agenda 2: Survey on Tracking System by the KL Bar

Dato’ James enquired as to the reason why the responses to the survey were small compared to the size of the Bar.

Ms Reggie Wong explained that the survey was carried out over the period of 3 days only unlike the first survey which was carried out over a period of 1 week.

There was a consensus that the tracking system has been received positively. Dato’ James gave his assurance that in respect of the items highlighted in the survey, the courts would try and rectify the same.
Agenda 3: Other Matters Arising
The following matters were raised:

a) Tommy Thomas raised the concern that at times, the Registrars appeared to be disinclined to exercise their
discretion and were rigid in their interpretation of the rules and directions.

Dato’ Raus stated that adjournments were to be avoided.

Dato James was of the view that because the system was newly in place, there would be an inherent
inclination to be rigid to ensure that there would be a change of mindset by both the court staff/judicial officers
as well as lawyers.
b) Colin Andrew Pereira raised the matter of urgent applications and that there was no standard procedure in
place. Quite frequently, lawyers would have to spend time a considerable time convincing a clerk that the
matter was of urgency

Dato’ James replied that the Civil Division had 2 officers specifically in charge of urgent applications.

Dato’ Raus stated that there was a duty Judge who was assigned to hear urgent applications on an urgent
c) Dato’ James agreed that the names of Registrars on duty would be displayed at the Lobby level and at the
respective Managing Areas (Level 4 & 5).

Dato’ Raus also mentioned that for RKKK – urgent applications would be heard by RKKK 1.
d) Ravi Nekoo stated that payment counters have been reduced from 11 to 4.

Puan Hasnah assuref the meeting that she would check and revert on the matter.
e) Brendon Navin Siva raised the issue of there being no standardization on directions given by the Registrars.
He cited an example of where how some Registrars would only fix trial dates after the witness statements
have been filed whist others were prepared to fix dates notwithstanding the same not being done.

There was a consensus that the trial dates ought to fixed as soon as possible and that all interim matters
would be dealt with before the trial.
f) Vishnu enquired whether the current standard Case Management system would be used nationwide.

Dato’ James replied that it would, subject to some deviations.
g) Alan Gomez commented that the fixing of dates was too rigid and that the courts should be more

Dato Raus answered there would be no compromise on fixing of dates. Counsels ought not to handle too
many cases.

h) Tommy Thomas and Sitpah echoed the same sentiments as Alan Gomez.

Dato’ James reiterated Dato Raus’ views in respect of fixing of dates and suggested that counsel be more
specialized or otherwise assign the work to other solicitors.
j) Vishnu raised the matter of lawyers being constrained to a 5-page written submission at the Civil Division
A track.

Dato’ James had stated that Dato’ T S Nathan was applying the rules strictly and that he (Dato T S Nathan)
was of the view that any party unhappy with this direction was at liberty to appeal.
Meeting adjourned at 5.55 pm.
Reggie MS Wong
Civil Court Liaison Committee