Live-streaming of court proceedings may be invalid, warn lawyers

In a historic move, the Court of Appeal will live-stream civil appeal hearings tomorrow.

PUTRAJAYA: Lawyers have questioned the move by the Court of Appeal to live-stream three civil appeal hearings tomorrow amid the movement control order (MCO), which is still in place.

They said such proceedings could only be carried out after provisions in the Courts of Judicature Act (CoJA) and court rules were amended to dispense with the need for the physical presence of lawyers at these hearings.

Lawyer T Gunaseelan said Section 39 of CoJA states that the Court of Appeal shall sit on such dates and at such places as the (Court of Appeal) president may from time to time appoint.

That provision also states that the president may, when he deems it expedient, direct any appeal to be heard at any time and in any place in Malaysia.

Gunaseelan said it was unclear from the statement of the Federal Court Chief Registrar’s Office whether Court of Appeal judges and lawyers would physically assemble in a court.

“The Palace of Justice, which houses the Federal Court and Court of Appeal, is out of bounds during the on-going MCO because it is a government building.”

He said even if parties were to consent to such proceedings, it did not validate the hearings as such agreement did not confer jurisdiction or waive any express provision of the law.

Gunaseelan said this in response to the judiciary’s latest step towards live-streaming of cases, apart from conducting proceedings online.

In a statement, the Federal Court Chief Registrar’s Office said this move would allow the public to observe the proceedings live and have continued access to justice.

The proceedings will start at 10am tomorrow and members of the public can watch at www.kehakiman.gov.my.

Lawyer Syed Iskandar Syed Jaafar Al-Mahdzar said such a proceeding was invalid unless the CoJA and court rules were amended.

“No person can go against the CoJA, which is a law passed by Parliament. Currently, judges, lawyers and litigants must be physically present in court,” he said.

The question is whether the Federal Court would later uphold the Court of Appeal’s action for non-compliance or go for expediency.

“Convenience and justice have never been on talking terms. One cannot sacrifice justice on the altar of convenience,” he added.

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