Myanmar under the Myanmar Kings had a solid foundation of legal framework and judicial administration. Myanmar Law was then composed of three elements: Yazathat, Dhammathat and Phyathton. Yazathats; which were the King’s Royal Edicts and Ordinances. These are composed of King’s commands and Criminal Laws for prevalence of law and order, security and peace, including mainly for high treason, murder, dacoity, robbery ,theft etc.
Dhammathat: were collections of Corpus Jurist of Myanmar customary traditions, conventions and ratio decidendi of eminent judges and learned personnel in their decisions or writings, collected and consolidated versions of Myanmar Customary Law throughout the ages. Indeed, Dhammathats are composed of Legal Rules and Principles for Civil matters and Civil Law; they relate mainly to marriage, divorce, partition, succession, inheritance, adoption etc. Those Legal Rules and Principles are based on egalitarian rights relating to equality under law; and are still being applied by the present day courts of the Union of Myanmar. Pyatton: were the Judicial decisions passed by Courts, Benches and the King’s Hluttaw; like the present day Law Reports
(Rulings) of the Supreme Court.
In those days, criminal and civil jurisdictions were distinct. Prevention and punishment of acts causing gross disturbances of the peace, to the detriment of public security were considered part of the administrative functions of Government. Hence, criminal justice was dispensed by administrative officials of the State. Civil justice, on the other hand, was administered by judges appointed by or under the King and by arbitrators chosen by parties. Naturally appeals lay in the last resort to the King, but from the decision of an arbitrator there was no appeal.