Judging the Judges

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A short review of ‘Judging the Judges’ by NH Chan, a former Court of Appeal judge of Malaysia. As stated in the back cover, the main aims of the book is to enable readers to recognise what is justice, and to recognise the Malaysian cases in which justice had not been seen to be done, and to familiarise the layman of the judge’s craft so that he knows whether a judge has been fair and unbiased in the conduct of a trial. On these counts, I would say NH Chan was only partially successfuly in the writing of his book.

It is not one of the easiest books to get through. It is not for a lack of interesting material, but my main complaint would be in the structuring of the book. It seems that sometimes the author would go off on a frolic of his own and start writing about irrelevant material. The case in point is where the author suddenly plunges into a detailed account of his experience in flying as well as in motor racing, and explains the physics of skidding and how to overcome it.

The author was scathing in his attack on the judges of Adorna Properties

The most controversial sections of this book is where the author disparages the decisions of Insas Bhd v Ayer Molek Rubber Co Bhd and Adorna Properties v Boonsom Boonyanit, in particular the then Chief Justice Eusoff Chin who sat on the bench deciding these two matters. While I will not bore you with the details of the two cases, the effects of the case of Adorna Properties still resounds until present day, as it allows a forger to forge the title of a piece of land and then sell it on. The purchaser of this piece of land would then get good title, leaving the real owner helpless. The author was scathing in his attack on the judges of Adorna Properties and it led him to conclude that it was the most outrageous injustice. Stronger words were further used in the book.

Overall, it is a book worth purchasing, only if to read the sections on Adorna Properties and Insas Bhd. I enjoyed the sections on advocacy as well, although there were a bit too many sections quoted whole-sale from other advocacy books, and the accounts of the the good and bad judges from England. The list price is RM48.

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