On 8th January 2020, the Federal Court dismissed a motion to review its own decision and ordered the Applicant to pay costs of RM 100,000.00 to the Respondent.
The high amount of RM 100,000.00 awarded as costs is a clear message sent by the Federal Court that ‘review motions’ are not to be filed lightly and without serious consideration. It is noteworthy that the panel of Federal Court judges which delivered the decision was chaired by Chief Justice Tan Sri Tengku Maimun binti Tuan Mat.
The Malaysian civil court system generally allows for a dispute to be heard up to three times. Disputes are first heard by the High Court or a subordinate court. After that, there is a maximum of two rounds of appeals that can be filed against the decision of the High Court or subordinate court.
The Federal Court is the apex court of our country and no appeals can be made against its decisions. This is to ensure finality of litigation. That said, the Federal Court has an inherent jurisdiction to ‘review’ its own decisions if it can be shown, for example, that there has been a breach of natural justice.
The ‘review’, however, is not intended to be taken advantaged of and be treated as a further appeal against the decisions of the apex court. This, we believe, is the underlying reason of the Federal Court’s decision yesterday to award high costs of RM 100,000.00. It is to warn the public against using the ‘review’ process as a way to further try their luck in court.