Supreme Court to adopt chamber system


The Indonesian Supreme Court has implemented a new decree to adopt a chamber system. The new chamber system will start in April 2014. The amendments are based on comparative studies of how foreign courts operate.

The main goal of the chamber system is to ensure consistency in decisions of the court, as well as to speed up proceedings. There will be five chambers for different areas of law:

  • the Criminal Chamber;
  • the Civil Chamber;
  • the State Administration Chamber;
  • the Religious Affairs Chamber; and
  • the Military Chamber.

Supreme Court judges will be appointed to the chamber appropriate to their area of expertise. IP cases will go into the Civil Chamber, so that a pool of experience will develop. Civil Chamber Supreme Court judges will need to have served at district court level, which means that it is possible that some of the Jakarta Commercial Court judges (a specialist district court which hears IP cases) will be appointed to the Supreme Court in time, bringing more IP expertise in. Non-career judges who have undergone special training on civil law may also be appointed.

Under the chamber system, case petitions will proceed immediately to the relevant chamber and the chamber chairman will assign the panel of judges for each case. The chief justice will retain authority to assign justices to adjudicate cases of serious importance. Cases where there is significant controversy, panel disagreement or other special situations may be brought by the adjudicating judges to the weekly plenary meetings of their respective chamber for discussion.

Lastly, the chairman of each chamber must submit a monthly report to the chief justice regarding his/her chamber’s workload.

Arguably, this is a well thought-out and serious system, based on foreign studies, aimed to provide the Supreme Court with a strong platform for improvement. The Supreme Court has improved significantly in recent years - corruption has been reduced and decision quality strengthened. In addition, Supreme Court decisions are all published. The hope is that such measures will soon be adopted in the Commercial Court so that all IP cases are dealt with effectively, not just the Supreme Court appeals.

Nick Redfearn, Rouse, Indonesia

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