While, as for the reception of English law in the Malay states, RJ Wilkinson said : ‘There can be no doubt that Moslem Law would have ended by becoming the law of Malaya had not British law stepped in to check it’. Before the British intervention into Malay states, Malays were governed by Malay adat law and for the non-Malays, they were governed by personal laws or if they were British subjects, English law. These laws continued to apply, subject to modifications made by specific legislation, until the formal reception of the English law.
British started to intervene into Malay states using series of concluded treaties with Malay Rulers, in return for British protection against external attack, agreed to accept British advisers whose advice had to be sought and acted upon in all matters except those concerning Islam and Malay custom. It can be seen that through the so-called Residential System, British imposed indirect rule over the Malay states.
The formation of the Federated Malay States (FMS) showed that the Malay Rulers seems started to accept the British intervention into Malay states. Reception of English law into FMS can be divided into informal and formal reception. English law was introduced informally through the Residential System in two ways. Firstly, through the Enactment, on the advice of the British administrators, a number of specific legislation modeled on Indian Legislation which, in turn, was based on the English law. Secondly, through the decisions of the courts established by the British administrators. The higher rank of the judiciary were mostly filled by English or English-trained judges who naturally turned into English law whenever they were unable to find any local law to apply to new situations, particularly of a commercial character, caused by the very fact of British influences.
For instance, in the case of Government of Perak v Adam (1914), where it is a tort case, involving unlawful obstruction of land belonging to...
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