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Judiciary News and Current Issues

​1. The Opening of the Legal Year took place at the Supreme Court on Thursday 9 February 2023 corresponding to 18 Rejab 1444. The annual event gathered members of the Judiciary and the legal profession to mark the start of the court’s judicial year.

2. The ceremony was held in-person and at full capacity for the first time since the start of the pandemic. After a two-year absence due to COVID-19 restrictions, the event also welcomed the return of the Guard of Honour parade by the Royal Brunei Police Force (RBPF) which was inspected by the Honourable Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Dato Seri Paduka Steven Chong.

3. The tradition of Opening the Legal Year underscores the central role of the Judiciary in the administration of justice. It also focuses attention on the legal community with speeches delivered by the Honourable Chief Justice, followed by the Attorney General, Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Paduka Haji Ahmad bin Pehin Orang Kaya Laila Setia Bakti Di-Raja Dato Laila Utama Haji Awang Isa and the President of the Law Society of Brunei Darussalam, Awang Haji Mansur bin Dato Paduka Dr Haji Latif, in representing members of the legal fraternity.

4. In his annual address, the Chief Justice reflected on the year preceding, in particular the transition to online hearings which are now “a permanent feature of [the] courts, with a total of 3,542 cases conducted online between August 2021 and October 2022. ”The Chief Justice emphasized that “online hearings are here to stay” and reminded practitioners to keep up to date on their digital literacy so they are not at risk of being left behind.

5. The Chief Justice reported on the past year’s statistics, where he highlighted that “in the 12-month period ending in December 2022, the number of civil appeal cases filed in the Court of Appeal, interlocutory hearings filed in the High Court and Intermediate
Court and civil cases in the Subordinate Courts increased significantly compared to the previous year, signalling a positive return for civil and commercial litigation with the easing of restrictions as the economy re-opened”. He also added that 100% of
judgments for civil trials in the High Court were delivered within the target of between 1 to 3 months from the close of submissions.

6. Meanwhile, “the Subordinate Courts docketed 1,056 criminal cases in 2022, an increase from the previous year’s number of 880 and correspondingly, the number of criminal cases on appeal to the High Court from the Subordinate Courts also saw an increase when compared to 2021”. The Chief Justice highlighted that “notwithstanding the rise in caseload, the clearance rate of criminal trials in the Magistrate’s Court stands at 76.8%” and “77% of judgments for criminal trials in the Magistrate’s Court were delivered within [the] target of between 1 to 3 months from the close of submissions.”

7. The issue of ethics and professional standards in the legal profession was addressed by the Chief Justice where he reported that “according to data provided by the Law Society of Brunei Darussalam, there were 23 complaints heard by the Inquiry Committee from 2018 to 2022, of which 3 were investigated by the Disciplinary Committee.”

8. The Chief Justice spoke about a recent case involving a senior member of the Bar where the Court was satisfied that there was dishonesty and deceit by the solicitor and that misconduct was so serious that striking off was warranted. He reiterated that “the Court will not hesitate to take firm action when necessary to uphold public confidence in the administration of justice and in the integrity of the legal profession in order to protect the public who are dependent on the services of solicitors”. The Chief Justice said that a strong message needs to be sent by the legal fraternity that “any degradation of standards is not acceptable” and emphasized the court’s position that “errant solicitors who are found guilty of misconduct will be punished accordingly”.

9. The Opening of the Legal Year ceremony was attended by Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Laila Setia Bakti Di-Raja Dato Laila Utama Haji Awang Isa bin Pehin Datu Perdana Manteri Dato Laila Utama Haji Awang Ibrahim, Special Adviser to His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam and the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, Yang Mulia Dato Seri Paduka Haji Sufian bin Haji Sabtu, Acting Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and Deputy Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office (Security and Law) and Yang Mulia Dato Seri Paduka Awang Mohd Riza bin Dato Paduka Haji Mohd Yunos, Deputy Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office (Civil Service Governance).

10. The ceremony was also attended by The Honourable Chief Syarie Judge, Ambassadors and High Commissioners, Senior Government Officials, members of the Judiciary from the Civil and Syariah Courts, Attorney General’s Chambers, Law Society, and members of various government enforcement agencies.


Created at 09/02/2023 03:51 PM by Mohamad Jazmi bin Hj Mohamad Kamel
Last modified at 13/02/2023 10:16 AM by Mohamad Jazmi bin Hj Mohamad Kamel