Mallal or his real name, Bashir Ahmad Mallal was born on 26th February 1898 in Domel, Pakistan. He was the founder and editor of the Malayan Law Journal (MLJ) that exists today. He was the benefactor to the Faculty of Law of the University of Singapore and University of Malaya because of his contributions. During the First World War, Mallal travelled and settled down in Singapore. In 1918, he joined the law firm, Batternburg & Silva as a law clerk. Because of his work as a law clerk, he was aware of the inadequacies of law reporting methods. Then, he realized that he must make a continuation of the monthly Straits Law Journal and Reporter from 50 years ago. In 1932, he initiated the Malayan Law Journal (MLJ) and became its first editor. It was a monthly publication which reported law cases from Singapore, Malaysia and Brunei.
Besides that, Mallal was also the author of more than a dozen law publications, including The Annotated Edition of the Criminal Procedure Code of the Straits Settlements and Mallal’s Criminal Procedure. Since Mallal did not receive any formal training and education in law, he earned his reputation as a self-taught law scholar and researcher. Besides, he was also regarded as the lawyer’s lawyer because he was always the consultant for lawyers regarding law cases. He was a generous man who was always available to those who seek advice or help from him.
In recognition of his contribution to the legal profession, he was conferred honorary Doctor of Laws by the University of Singapore on 12th June 1962. To commemorate the occasion, B. A. Mallal Moot Prize was created by the University to provide financial incentives to students who best performed in the moots conducted in Faculty of Law.
Mallal continued to serve as MLJ’s editor until he passed away on 5th September 1972. After his death, MLJ’s editor was taken over by his apprentice, Al-Mansor Adabi. In 1992, the Singapore Law Reports took over the reporting of Singapore law cases. Today, MLJ still continues to report cases from Malaysia and Brunei and it is known as the longest surviving law report in the region.
Mallal’s Digest, a multi-volume digest summarises local cases by subject and allows finding of cases on specific issues or topics. As the cases are in summary form, a greater number of cases can be consulted within a shorter period of time.
Mallal’s Digest has always been one of the essential tools of the legal profession. It is useful for a comprehensive coverage of the case law in a particular area, as it gives the user a succinct summary of cases under specific headings. Since the first edition was published in 1940, Mallal’s Digest has become an invaluable source of law cases for legal practitioners in Malaysia and Singapore. Concise case summaries prepared by expert editors provide comprehensive coverage of law cases from 1808 to present with approximately 100 subject classifications in alphabetical order. Mallal’s Digest comprises several focuses such as consolidated subject index, consolidated table of cases, index to periodicals and case citator.
Mallal Digest collection can be found at Ground Floor of Tan Sri Professor Ahmad Ibrahim Law Library, University of Malaya.
About Lisdar Abdul Wahid
As the head of the law library I manage legal resources efficiently and effectively as we provide legal reference services and instruction to the law school’s faculty, staff, researchers, students and the general public. I also involved in all planning and in the implementation of any decisions that affect the law library.