Chief Justice receives top jurists award

|     James Kon     |

CHIEF Justice Dato Paduka Steven Chong was awarded the prestigious International Jurists Award 2019 yesterday afternoon at the High Court Lobby, Ground Floor, High Court-Supreme Court Building in recognition of his lifelong contributions to law and the administration of justice.

The award is presented by the International Council of Jurists, an organisation comprising jurists whose mission is to work towards promoting the administration of justice and the vigorous advancement and expansion of the law, expedient to the social and economic needs of the people.

The Council is actively involved in organising campaigns for legal awareness and information to be used for the advancement and amelioration of public good. The organisation also aims to promote the rule of law and social justice through the provision of free legal aid and by maintaining an efficient system of legal advice.

The accolade was presented by President of the International Council of Jurists Dr Adish C Aggarwala.

In his acceptance speech, the Chief Justice reiterated the Judiciary’s commitment “to upholding the rule of law and improving the quality of the justice delivery system” and re-emphasised the initiatives undertaken by the Judiciary to “establish an efficient and effective judicial system and enhancing access to justice”.

He went on to list the various measures implemented by the Judiciary, including setting timelines for the delivery of judgments, active case management, professional development of judicial officers; the development of Bench Books to maintain consistency in sentences; the expansion of the use of mediation to promote a non-confrontational and more harmonious way of resolving disputes; and encouraging members of the Bar to provide pro bono services.

Brunei Darussalam administers justice using a dual legal system based on Syariah Law and Common Law.

His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam explained the reasoning behind Brunei’s adoption of the two systems in his titah during the Brunei Islamic Religious Council meeting in October 2011.

“These courts serve a single purpose, to control the problems and ways to uphold justice. I believe that the two judicial systems, Civil and Syarak, would not pose problems if they run in parallel or concurrently,” the monarch said. “In a nutshell, both Syarak and Civil laws could run concurrently and in parallel without affecting one another. This is the uniqueness of Brunei.”

Dato Paduka Steven Chong is the first Bruneian jurist to be given the International Jurist Award. Previous recipients of the award include the Chief Justice of Singapore Sundaresh Menon, and Chan Sek Keong, the then Chief Justice of Singapore.

Present at the ceremony were Attorney General Dato Paduka Haji Hairol Arni bin Haji Abdul Majid; Justice of the High Court Pengiran Datin Paduka Hajah Rostaina binti Pengiran Haji Duraman; ambassadors and high commissioners and members of the Diplomatic Corps; Permanent Secretary at the Prime Minister’s Office Haji Mohammad Rosli bin Haji Ibrahim; Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court Haji Abdullah Soefri bin Pehin Orang Kaya Saiful Mulok Dato Seri Paduka Haji Abidin; Vice President of the Law Society Pengiran Izad Ryan bin Pengiran Laila Kanun Diraja Pengiran Haji Bahrin; as well as staff of the Supreme Court.