Nor Fadzlina Nawi (La Trobe University) has posted Family Mediation in Malaysian Muslim Society: Some Lessons for the Civil Family Law in Malaysia. The abstract follows.
Malaysia’s justice system is exceptional in that it reflects the country’s multi-racial and multi-religious culture. Malaysia has a two-tier legal system, including family law. Family law matters relating to Muslims are administered separately from those of non-Muslims. Muslims are dealt with under the jurisdiction of the Syariah courts, while non-Muslims are dealt with under the jurisdiction of the civil courts. It is significant to note that, since 2002 there has been a mandatory family mediation service also known as Sulh for Muslims but a similar service is yet to be established under the civil legal system for the non-Muslims in Malaysia. The Sulh process is reported to be successful in dealing with the backlog of cases in the Syariah Courts. It is claimed that the benefits of making mediation mandatory generally prevail over the potential harms for families, even when violence is an issue, provided that its design and realizations are carefully thought of. Hence, it could be argued that it is only fair and equitable that an equivalent form of process be made available to non-Muslims in the civil family law system.
Thus, the current paper is not concerned with whether or not mediation should be made mandatory in family disputes, but rather the best way in approaching its application and implementation in the civil legal system Malaysia. Considering that the Islamic family law system has already been progressively establishing a form of mandatory mediation for Muslims in Malaysia, the paper briefly describes and reflects on the development and implementation of the Sulh program and highlights some of the lessons for the civil legal system towards establishing a mandatory family mediation program for non-Muslims in Malaysia.