The Tribunal for Consumer Claims was established under section 85, part XII, of the Consumer Protection Act 1999 which came into force on 15 November 1999.
The Tribunal for Consumer Claims is an independent body under The Consumer Protection Act 1999 (Act No. 599) (hereafter referred to as ‘The Act’) with the primary function of hearing and determining claims filed by consumers under the act . The primary objective of the Tribunal is to provide an alternative forum for consumers to file claims in a simple, inexpensive and speedy manner. With the existence of the Tribunal, consumers can now seek redress against unscrupulous/unethical traders and suppliers of goods.
The Tribunal has jurisdiction in respect of any claim not more than RM 25,000.00 filed within 3 years of the dispute except the following claims :
A claim can be filed in the Tribunal by filling up the claim Form which is known as Form 1. This Form is available free of charge from all Tribunal branches and can even be downloaded from the e-Tribunal portal. A filing fee of RM 5.00 is to be paid for the filing of Form 1.
The consumer has to serve Form 1 on the trader and both parties are required to attend a hearing of the claim on the date fixed by the Tribunal.
The traders can contact the consumer to discuss the claim for the purpose of explaining the dispute or to settle it. If there is no settlement, traders should file Form 2 at the Tribunal branches. Form 2 should state the defence or explanation to the claim. A copy of Form 2 should be served on the claimant.
Both parties can settle the claim between them or at least discuss the possible solution to the claim. If parties have successfully settled the claim, a notice of discontinuance can be filed at the Tribunal office and parties need not attend the hearing of the claim.
The parties should gather all relevant documents regarding the claim and get ready any witnesses to attend the hearing. Any party can also bring along a family member, friend etc. To assist the party at the hearing. However, no lawyers are allowed to represent either party at the hearing.
The president sitting in the Tribunal will assist parties to present their respective case and will also, at all times, assist parties to reach an agreed settlement. Where neccessary, the President will guide the parties as to the law applicable in a particular claim. The parties are also encouraged to present all facts of their case.
If the claim is settled with the consent of both parties, the Tribunal will issue an agreed award (note: all Tribunal orders are known as awards). If the claim is not settled, the Tribunal will issue an award based on the assessment of the facts and the law involved. The President will give his reasons for the award.
The terms of the Tribunal awards and the manner of the compliance with the award are clearly set out in every award. Where any party does not understand any term of the award, the matter can be referred back to the Tribunal for clarification.
Non-compliance with a Tribunal award is a criminal offence under the Consumer Protection Act, 1999. Any complain of non-compliance with an award should be made to the Enforcement Division, Ministry of Domestic Trade, Co-Operatives and Consumerism.