Brunei: Country and Foreign Investment
This page was last updated on 22 May 2019.
Brunei is an absolute monarchy. The head of state and prime minister is the sultan, currently Sir Hassnal Bolkiah (since 5 October 1967). In August 1998, Oxford-educated Prince Al-Muhtadee Billah was inaugurated as his heir.
The sultan has full executive authority. He has full powers to appoint and dismiss the 33 members of the majlis mesyuarat (‘legislative council’). The majlis, appointed and presided over by the sultan, This body approves the sultan’s decrees without demur as it has no real power. It also advises him on matters of state.
Civil law is based on English common law; for Muslims, Sharia (Islamic law) supersedes civil law in a number of areas. There is a supreme court (the chief justice and judges are sworn in by the monarch for three-year terms).
All members of the (Brunei) Court of Appeal are distinguished Commonwealth judges. Final civil appeals are (by consent) to the Privy Council in London.
In June 2011 the number of members in the majlis was increased to 33. The council meets annually.