There are five levels of courts with final recourse available through the Privy Council in London. Beginning with the courts of first instance, there are courts of Kathis that handle family matters such as marriage and divorce by applying Islamic law ( Shari'ah ). Lower courts called sultan's courts, presided over by magistrates, hear other ordinary cases involving minor disputes. Such cases may be appealed to the High Court, a court of unlimited original jurisdiction in both civil and criminal matters. The High Court is presided over by a chief justice and justices appointed by the sultan. Decisions of the High Court can be taken to the Court of Appeal, presided over by the president and two commissioners appointed by the Sultan. The Supreme Court consists of the High Court and the Court of Appeal. In 1995, the right to appeal to the Privy Council in London was terminated in criminal cases. This final recourse remains available only for civil cases.
In May 2002, a State Judiciary Department was established in Brunei, which is responsible for the administration of Brunei's judicial matters.
Certain provisions of the 1959 constitution have been suspended under the state of emergency since 1962.