Lex Petros: New Commercial Courts (NCC)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

New Commercial Courts (NCC)

With effect from 1 September 2009, 2 (two) commercial courts were put in motion in the High Court of Kuala Lumpur to speed up the disposal of commercial cases.

For the moment, NCC1 presided by His Lordship Justice Dr. Hamid Sultan Abu Backer and NCC2 presided by His Lordship Justice Anantham Kasinater.
** With effect from 1 January 2010, His Lordship Tuan Mohd. Arif Bin Mohd. Yusof will preside over the new NCC 3. Source: Bar Council Circular 257/2009.

The central features of the NCC are as follows:-

1. Processing of all documents will be done on the same day as filing (i.e. documents filed prior to 3pm can be extracted on the same day)
Recently, our firm filed a Writ of Summons and was extracted 4 days later (including the weekends and within 2 working days and I think we would have gotten it on the same day had not it been our court clerks' movement schedule).
2. Court will take charge of Management of cases soon after filing
  • All Writ of Summons will bear a return date 3 months from date of filing.
Continuing from above, attached on the right hand corner of the Writ was a note with a case management date 3 months later. I guess this extension of the "tracking system" into the NCCkeeps lawyers and litigants on their toes.
  • All Winding Up Petitions will be fixed for a HEARING DATE within 2 months from date of filing.
I've always thought that winding-up petitions should be heard soonest. It certainly means that advertisement and Gazetting has to be speeded up so as to obtain the Registrar's Certificate. I only hope that the Govt Gazette publications can move just as fast as the Courts. The obvious potential problem is timing and availability of advertisement slots. However, as far as the daily papers are concerned, a 3-day advance booking would normally do the trick.
  • All other cases and interlocutory applications will be fixed for Case Management before Registrar 2 weeks from date of filing. STRICT compliance required of all directions.
I think this is like the current "tracking system" of the A-track courts. Directions would include the not more than 5-pages skeletal submissions requirement and prior to that, ensure that all affidavits are exchanged.
  • All applications will be allocated a hearing date within 2 months from date of filing.
  • Full Trial Cases, if parties are ready, a Trial will be fixed within 1 month. In any event, the Court intends to dispose of all cases within 9 months of filing.
This pace mirrors that of the Singaporean and HK Courts. However, since commercial cases do involve voluminous documents sometimes, discretion should be given to extend the anticipated time so that all litigants can properly complete the common bundle of documents. I envisage lawyers will start to be overly insistent on clients reverting with instructions and documents for the sake of ensuring all documentary evidence is prepared. Witnesses may be a problem area and depending on which industry, some witnesses come and go. I reckon that more Writ Subpoena Ad Testifacandum would be taken out in view of litigants being "encouraged" to move their cases at this pace

3. To expedite all cases, the Court strongly encourages the following:-
  • Parties to file an ENGLISH translation of all cause papers.
I thought this was a practice amongst lawyers in any event. Wasn't it always "strongly encouraged"? I remember my pupillage days when I noticed a notice on the bench table which read "Gunakanlah Bahasa Kebangsaan", something which is not practiced anymore these days, with the exception of some Courts. Even in the subordinate courts, I noticed counsels invoking their submissions in English, much to the pleasure of the bench.
  • Parties to file the Form 63 RHC 1980 (Notice Pre Trial Case Management) immediately after close of pleadings.
But of course! This is directed by Order 34 RHC 1980. Always been the case, save as you actually enjoy receiving a 'show cause letter' from the Registry. But then again, if the new NCC cases are to be given a case management date in advance, the author ponders as to the usefulness of maintaining this procedure, much less it leads to more paperwork and filing fees.

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