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Sabah Court History

The existence of the Kota Kinabalu High Court building can be traced back one century ago, evident through a building made of wood, known then as the Jesselton Court building situated on the now Jalan Istana. Although this building is no longer where it stood, this photo proves that an administration of justice system had settled in Sabah more than 100 years ago.


Towards the end of the 1960s, the Kota Kinabalu High Court building progressed into the modern era through the construction of concrete buildings located at Jalan Pantai. This was officiated on 12 September 1968 by the Tuan Yang Terutama Governor of Sabah, with the attendance of the then Chief Judge of Borneo, Dato’ Ismail Khan. The Kota Kinabalu High Court building remained at this location from then until it moved to the current Kota Kinabalu Court complex. In 1968, the Kota Kinabalu High Court building housed three more courtrooms. Due to economic and population growth, there was also an increase of Judges and judicial officers from time to time.


By the end of 1993, there were two High Court Judges, two Sessions Court Judges and four Magistrates attached to the Kota Kinabalu High Court building with the purpose to overcome the increasing volume of cases and by early 1994, the extension to the old Kota Kinabalu High Court building contained a Law library, two High Courts, two Sessions Courts and one Magistrates Courtroom. The additional court building has greatly improved justice service delivery to the people in the State of Sabah.

The new Kota Kinabalu Court complex is set up on 6.25 acres on Shariff Osman Road, Kolam Road in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. The project was approved during the 10th Malaysia Plan (10MP) which included work on the construction of a new building with the scope of a 16-court room project, one (1) Federal court, five (5) High courts, six (6) Sessions’ Courts, and six (6) Magistrates’ courts. The project started in July 22, 2014 was completed after 30 months on April 1, 2017.


Magistrate Court at Kota Kinabalu in 1972


This project had achieved an Industrialised Building System (IBS) score of 78% which exceeded the 70% target set by the government. The contract was awarded initially at RM149.0 million but with the use of Industrialised Building System (IBS), this project had saved RM1.1 million and costs only at RM147,904.853.79 million. During the handing over ceremony, the Kota Kinabalu Court project was awarded with the Green Building Certification (PHJKR) and a two star rating.

The new Court complex handing over ceremony was held on August 9, 2018. The ceremony was attended by YB Datuk Liew Vui Keong, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Legal), Chief Justice of Malaysia YAA Tan Sri Datuk Seri Richard Malanjum, Chief Judge of Malaya YAA Tan Sri Zaharah Ibrahim, Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak YAA Datuk David Wong Dak Wah, Court of Appeal Judges YA Dato’ Tengku Maimun binti Tuan Mat, YA Dato' Mary Lim Thiam Suan, YA Datuk Yaacob bin Haji Md Sam, Director General of the Legal Affairs Division (BHEUU) Datuk Jalil bin Marzuki, Chief Registrar of the Federal Court of Malaysia YBhg.Dato 'Sri Latifah bint Hj. Mohd Tahar, and Senior Director of the General Building Works Branch 1 YBrs. Ir. Muhammad Azman bin Jamrus, judicial officers and all staff of the Kota Kinabalu Court.

The old Sandakan court building located on a hillside in central Sandakan is the first court building in Sandakan. This court began its operation before 1957 and was officially opened by the British government in 1957. The building houses a high court, session court and also a magistrate court.


Sandakan Court in 1957


As the city of Sandakan began to expand in terms of population, and the administrations needs increased, the court administration has rented the Sandakan Municipal Council building, also known as Wisma Warisan in 1990, located opposite the old court building. The Sessions’ court and Magistrates' court were moved to the rental building, while the High Court has remained in the old building.


The new Sandakan court complex was built in 2001 to meet the growing needs for more staff and space due to the increasing number of cases registered in the court


On the 30th June 2003, all three courts were moved simultaneously to the two-storey building complex located in Batu 7, Jalan Lapangan Terbang. The opening ceremony of this new court was officiated by His Excellency, head of state of Sabah, Tun Datuk Seri Panglima Haji Ahmadshah bin Abdullah on 28th June 2005.


The “Garden inside the court” concept building costs RM15.5 million. This modern and spacious building complex has six open courts and judges’ chambers, two registries for the High Court and Lower Court, a library, a Video Conference Room, a Child Witness Room, two meeting rooms, a court lock up, a prayer room, Lawyer’s room, Prosecutor’s room, Police Officers’ Room and also a canteen.

The Tawau Court was first established in 1955 located in an old building near the Land and Survey office. The Court started with three staff, a District Officer and Assistant District Officer . District Officer Mr Frederick Chin Pin Fook and Assistant District Officer Mr Paul Kan were gazetted as Magistrates. Only In 1971 that a first-class magistrate was placed in the court.


Tawau Court


In 1981, the court moved to a new building, the same building currently in use. The building was officially opened by His Excellency Tun Datuk Hj Mohamad Adnan Robert who was then the Head of State of Sabah.


As at 2019, a High Court Judge and a Session Court Judge are in office. The Tawau Court’s administration extends to Circuit Courts of Lahad Datu and Semporna.



Beaufort Court


Keningau Court

Semporna Court

Jesselton Court in 1900