An identification and comparison of the primary differences in the legal systems between the three States of UK, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia
What are the basic differences between UK, Malaysian, and Saudi Arabia law?
UK law is based on a system of common law. This involves two main, distinct types of law. Firstly, legislation, which is statutory law created by the governing bodies which regulate and grant rights. Secondly, common law, which creates legal precedent based on prior judicial decisions (Le Sueur et al, 2010). Malaysian law is also subject to the common law legal system. Interestingly, if there is no Malaysian case law precedent, UK precedent can be applied to cases in Malaysia.
Malaysia operates a federal and State law system. Federal laws are made by parliament and are applicable to the whole nation. State laws are only enforceable in the particular State it applies to, of which there are 13 in Malaysia. The UK does not have any separate States, and therefore all laws in the UK are federal, applying to the whole nation.
Saudi Arabia law does not have a federal and State law system, and is based solely around the Islamic Sharia law, derived from the Qu’ran. There is no form of common law, meaning each judicial decision is based upon the Sharia law principles (Al-Fadhel, 2009). If there is no guidance in Sharia law, judges will consult medieval texts of jurisprudence before making their independent judgment, but it must be remembered this decision does not create precedent. Malaysian law also adopts Sharia law on a State law level, but it is only applicable to Muslims (Van Engeland, 2014).
Le Sueur, A, Sunkin, M, Murkens, J. Public Law. Test, Cases, and Materials. (Oxford University Press, 2010)
Al-Fadhel, F. ‘The new judicial system of Saudi Arabia’ (2009) Arbitration 75(1) 91-94
Van Engeland, A. ‘The balance between Islamic law, customary law and human rights in Islamic constitutionalism through the prism of legal pluralism’ (2014) Cambridge Journal of International and Comparative Law 3(4) 1321-1348