In Malaysia, consumers who are dissatisfied with their purchases have an avenue to file a complaint with the Tribunal for Consumer Complaints (“Tribunal“). The tribunal is an independent body created by statute (the Consumer Protection Act 1999) which came into force on 15 November 2009. This article sets out some basic information about the process of filing a consumer complaint with the Tribunal.
Who can lodge a complaint?
Under the Consumer Protection Act (“Act”), any consumer who alleges to have suffered loss relating to his interests as a consumer, may lodge a complaint with the Tribunal. Briefly, a consumer is any person who buys goods and services for his personal use or for domestic or household purposes. As such, companies are not considered “consumers”, and individuals who buy goods and services for business purposes are not consumers either.
What is the jurisdiction of the Tribunal?
The Tribunal is empowered under the Act to determine cases where the value of the award sought is less than RM25,000.00.
What happens if the claim is for more than RM25,000?
The consumer will have to file legal proceedings in the civil court. Alternatively, the Tribunal may have jurisdiction to hear and determine a claim exceeding RM25,000 if parties have entered into an agreement in writing that the Tribunal shall have jurisdiction to hear and determine the claim.
Are there fees charged for filing a complaint at the Tribunal?
A flat fee of RM5.00 is charged.
Can I be represented by a lawyer during the Tribunal proceedings?
No. Parties are not allowed to be represented by a lawyer during the proceedings. You are, of course, free to obtain legal advice about your claim generally.
What’s the procedure for filing a claim at the Tribunal?
You can find out the procedure at the Tribunal’s website. Click here.
How will the claim be heard?
It is a fairly informal process. The claim will be heard by a President sitting in the Tribunal, who will assist parties in preparing their respective cases. The Tribunal is not a court of law and as such are not bound by legal technicalities and have a wide discretion in deciding cases.
I won my claim at the Tribunal but the Defendant refuses to pay me! What can I do?
An award by the Tribunal shall be deemed as an order of the Magistrates’ Court and can be enforced against the Defendant as if it is an order from the civil court. It is also a criminal offence for a party not to comply with the award of the Tribunal and the non-complying party may be subject to imprisonment and/or fines.
Does the losing party have to pay costs?
The Tribunal may make an order as to costs not exceeding RM200.
I’m not satisfied with the Tribunal’s decision. What can I do?
You can apply to the High Court for judicial review of the Tribunal’s decision. You must do so within 3 months from the date of the decision and you will need to appoint a lawyer to help you with the judicial review proceedings.