Thursday, April 01, 2010

Long overdue reform of consumer protection laws

Press Release

We welcome long overdue reform of consumer protection laws

The Malaysian Bar welcomes the recent announcement by Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob regarding the proposed reform to the Hire Purchase Act 1967. For far too long, consumers have suffered the exorbitant interest rates coupled with drastic repossession provisions under this Act.

The announcement concerning the introduction of a Competition Act and the revival of the Copyright Tribunal is also welcomed.

We call on the Ministry to conduct a comprehensive and holistic reform of all laws relating to consumer rights and protection.

Individual consumers are frequently at a disadvantage, especially in transactions with financial institutions, due to their lack of bargaining power. Such institutions utilise standard contracts with fixed, non-negotiable terms that are heavily weighted in their favour.

These “adhesion contracts” impose severe and unreasonable penalties on consumers at the first sign on non-compliance, and often cause consumers to spiral into further debt due to their harsh and inflexible terms. Consumers generally have little choice but to accept the adverse terms, to their detriment, and are left with scant protection for their interests.

We urge the Government to consider the enactment of an Unfair Contract Terms Act, and to invite all relevant stakeholders for a consultation to review all areas of reform.

Ragunath Kesavan
Malaysian Bar

1 April 2010

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