Consumer Protection in the E-Transaction: Better (Too) Late than Never (An Abstract)

By: Sonny Zulhuda*

Malaysia has over a decade regarded the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) as a powerful tools and engine for growth in future. Related investments and development projects are dramatically boosted and other industrial and social infrastructures also gained the attention.

The consumer side, however, has a different story. While many of consumer concerns were addressed and gradually solved with the coming into force of the Consumer Protection Act (CPA) 1999, one major aspect of consumer protection is somehow lagging behind. The Malaysia’s CPA 1999 makes it clear that its provisions do not apply to those transactions effected by the electronic means. This is in turn resulting in an absurd situation. As one scholar noted, there is absurdity to find that while one can be compensated for a loss due to defective goods or services he or she took from normal transaction, the same cannot be guaranteed for the transaction he or she entered into electronically. What is then the protection offered by law in Malaysia for the e-transaction consumers? The truth is that, there is currently no comprehensive legal framework for protecting e-transaction consumers. It is argued that the law is in changing and developing mode.

Against this background and thesis, this paper investigates the present state of legal and regulatory framework for consumer protection in the electronically-effected transactions/trade in Malaysia. It seeks to examine possible remedies that one can get from other legal instruments such as the recently-enacted Electronic Commerce Act 2006, the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998, the MCMC-supervised General Consumer Code (MCMC) and other related laws.

Latest case law is also discussed to show current direction that the e-transaction consumer protection takes. Proposals on how the situation could be improved will also be considered in this paper. And for that matter, this paper will also make attempts to compare the situation in Malaysia with some other jurisdictions such as Australia and New Zealand.

*) This paper was presented at the 6th International Conference of Corporate Social Responsibility, 11-14 June 2007, Kuala Lumpur, jointly with Mr. Md. Fazlul Karim.

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