Law in Malaysia

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Malaysian Journal of Library & Information Science, Vol.5, No.1, July 2000: 19-36

MALAYSIAN LEGAL SOURCES : PRINT N. N. Edzan MLIS Program, Faculty of Computer Science & Information Technology, University of Malaya e-mail : ABSTRACT Identifies and provides a brief description of the various print form of Malaysian legal sources which are available in the 1990’s. Malayan Law Journal has been identified as the most prolific legal publisher in Malaysia It is suggesed that the various Government bodies should actively publish since they are the sole producer of legal information. Keywords: Malaysian legal sources; Legislation; Law reports; Digests; Legal indexes; Legal bibliographies; Legal directories; Legal dictionaries

INTRODUCTION Law is dynamic because its requirements and forms change with changing times and environment. As a result, new laws are constantly being promulgated and existing ones amended to suit these changes. This is reflected in the publication of the various sources of law that have proliferated rather rapidly worldwide. In Malaysia itself, there has been a marked increase in the publication of the various Malaysian legal sources. In 1988, Shaikha Zakaria had outlined, in considerable detail, the various Malaysian legal sources that were available towards the end of the 1980’s. Since then, numerous persons, government as well as commercial publishers have produced and published numerous Malaysian legal sources. This article will, therefore, attempt to briefly itemised the various legal sources that are available in the 1990s. Malaysian legal sources can be broadly classified into primary and secondary sources. All materials listing laws that are formulated (by those vested with law-making powers) are referred to as the primary sources of law. These include:

Edzan, N. N.

a. Legislation or materials that record the law made by the law-making authorities. In Malaysia, Chapter 1 of Part VI of the Federal Constitution provides for the power to legislate to Parliament at the Federal level, and to the State Legislative Assembly at the State level (Figure 1). However, the distribution of subject matter to be legislated between the Federal and State authorities are well defined in Article 74 of the Federal Constitution. Legislation


Federal & State Subsidiary Legislation

a. Acts of Parliament b. State Enactments

a. Orders b. Regulations c. Rules d. By-laws e. Proclamations f. Notifications

Figure 1: Malaysian Legislation b. Case law or law that is based entirely on judicial decisions. Access to case law is via the various law reports. Secondary legal sources, on the other hand, consist mainly of preliminary research tools, which aid in the finding, evaluating and understanding of the various primary materials. These are the legal encyclopedias, case digests, citators, annotators, legal dictionaries, textbooks, as well as periodical articles. Description of these secondary sources follows. CASE DIGESTS Digests are informative abstracts or summaries of case law or legislation. A case digest, as the name suggests, provides the case law on a given topic in a highly compressed form as well as abstracts of the legal principles, which may be inferred


Malaysian Legal Resources: Print

from the case. A case digest will include a summary of the bare facts and decisions of a case, plus a list of citations where the case has been reported in full. Cases are usually digested and arranged according to their subject matter. Order of presentation of the cases within each subject is normally chronological. However, it must be noted that digested cases, on their own are not adequate substitutes for the law reports. But digests may help in tracing the subsequent history of cases. Similarly, a legislation digest will outline the main points of an act or a statutory instrument. Various case digests have been published to cater to the increasing number of reported...
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