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Our Personal Law Guide is here to help you, whether it is about how to write a Will, make a claim from a service provider or give someone the power of attorney.
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In our everyday life, we are bound to go through some forms of disputes or problems that may be caused by an inconsiderate neighbour or by having purchased unsatisfactory goods and/or services. As a law-abiding person, it would be ideal if you could have these disputes or problems effectively addressed or resolved in an amicable manner. Our personal law guide gives you insights on how you can deal with these common disputes or problems, whilst safeguarding your own legal rights.
Everyone has the right to the quiet enjoyment of their own home. However, there are times when you are faced with unwanted disputes with your neighbours for various reasons, ranging from having a noisy neighbour to your neighbour’s tree or plant blocking the light in your house compound or even the leaves from these trees clogging your drain.
While some noises such as an infant crying or renovation works (during day time) are inevitable and tolerable, other types of disturbances like noises from loud music coming from late night parties or karaoke sessions are unacceptable and can be stressful and detrimental to your personal and family’s health.
In such situations, knowing what you can do legally will help you protect your rights when your amicable communications and reminders conveyed to your neighbours go unheeded. In such situations, there are steps you can take to put an end to these activities. For example, you may send your neighbour a well-structured formal complaint letter that includes a clear description of the pertinent facts and details of your complaint. This letter can then be subsequently used to support your complaint to your local municipality or when instituting any legal action against your neighbour.
Only when you have exhausted all avenues to settle the dispute amicably should you take the next step. You may then raise a complaint to your local authority and/or police, or as a last resort, apply to the court for a specific performance (e.g. a court order to compel your neighbour to abate the noise) in which case, you are advised to seek proper legal advice.
As a consumer, your rights are protected under Malaysia’s Consumer Protection Act 1999 which applies in respect of all goods and services that are offered or supplied to one or more consumers in trade including any trade transaction conducted through electronic means. The Malaysian Consumer Protection Act 1999 prohibits any false or misleading representation of the goods or services that a person or business organisation sells. This includes the standard, quality, grade, quantity, and composition of the product or service.
However, at times, you may find yourself purchasing goods that are defective and/or do not meet the representation made by the merchant. In such cases, you are advised as a first step, to communicate to the seller within a reasonable time to make the seller aware of the defective good that you had purchased. Explain to the seller what you wish done with the defective good, i.e. to exchange it with another, get it repaired or getting a refund. When requesting for refunds, make sure that you have read and understood the refund policy of the seller. The seller’s refund policy may be different from policies of other sellers or merchants. Ensure also that you have in your possession the original receipt in order to prove your purchase.
If this does not work, then you can write in formally to ask for a replacement, refund or repair of the defective goods. Examples of letters dealing with goods and their sellers, include:
In the event the seller does not respond to your letter, you may consider making a formal complaint to the Consumer Tribunal or as a last resort, to take legal action against them, in which case you are advised to seek proper legal advice.
As a consumer, your rights are protected under the Consumer Protection Act 1999 which applies in respect of all goods and services that are offered or supplied to one or more consumers in trade including any trade transaction conducted through electronic means. The Malaysian Consumer Protection Act 1999 prohibits any false or misleading representation of the goods or services that a person or business organisation sells. This includes the standard, quality, grade, quantity, and composition of the product or service.
Just like any other purchases you make, services also form part and parcel of your daily lives. A service is something intangible, and by paying for a service, you expect the service provider to get certain work done for you in a satisfactory manner. However, sometimes things do not go as expected and in such cases you should first communicate your dissatisfaction to the service provider. Do this within a reasonable period of time. Explain to the service provider what you want the service provider to do to remedy the situation i.e. perform the services again to your satisfaction or request a refund.
If this does not work, then complaint or request letters can be issued. Complaint or request letters provide documentary proof that you had communicated to the service provider your dissatisfaction and states the required action(s) you expect the service provider to perform to make good the services. Some examples of common complaint or request letters are:
In the event the service provider does not respond to your letter, you may consider making a formal complaint to the Consumer Tribunal or as a last resort, to take legal action against them, in which case you are advised to seek proper legal advice.
Life does not always go as we plan. In our everyday life we run into situations that give rise to disputes, conflicts and problems. Knowing what to do in these situations is invaluable. It can save you time, money and more importantly protect your rights. Read on to learn more about how to manage common situations that arise in your everyday life from a legal perspective.
Dealing with airlines
Whilst it can be frustrating to encounter delayed and/or cancelled flights, or distressing when your luggage goes missing when traveling, knowing your rights and what you can do will help you lessen the impact of these unfortunate encounters. At the very least you would be able to get monetary compensation for the trouble you went through.
In Malaysia, the legislation governing delayed or cancelled flights and lost luggage is the Malaysian Aviation Consumer Protection Code 2016, issued in pursuance to the Malaysian Aviation Commission Act 2015.
Where the airline reasonably expects a flight to be delayed for at least two hours from its scheduled time of departure, or in the case where a flight is cancelled, the airline is legally required to offer you compensation and care, depending on the nature of the delay or cancellation. These include:
On the other hand, if your luggage went missing after you have checked them in with the airline, you are advised to make a complaint to the airline within 21 days from the date when your luggage were checked in; if you fail to do so, you will lose your right to take any action against the airline.
Airline services are well regulated and most airlines would already have processes and procedures in place to deal with passenger disputes. The manner and amount of compensations passengers are entitled to are also governed by legislation and international conventions that have to be followed strictly by airlines. Know your rights and get the compensation you are entitled.
Dealing with hotels
When you stay at a hotel you are paying the hotel for a satisfactory lodging experience and are entitled to expect certain standards when it comes to the room you are provided and the service given for the amount you paid. The last thing you want is a room that is unclean or has poorly maintained furniture and fittings. In these situations you, as a consumer, have the right to complain and seek compensation if warranted.
For example, if you had stayed in a hotel that provided you with an unsatisfactory room, you can issue a complaint letter to the hotel to complain about the unsatisfactory room and claim compensation. However, you are advised to raise this complaint directly to the hotel at the soonest reasonable time from when you had realized that you were given an unsatisfactory room. Only when you were not given or offered an acceptable alternative by the hotel after your complaint was made and you had no alternative but to accept and stay in the unsatisfactory room without any compensation being offered by the hotel, should you issue the hotel a formal complaint letter requesting for an appropriate compensation.
As with most disputes of this nature, it is to your best interest to attempt to settle the dispute with the hotel amicably without resorting to any costly legal actions.
Dealing with banks
Fraud and scams can happen to anyone. In this connected and highly digitized world we live in where goods and services are transacted at great volume and velocity over the internet, our personal data security is something that we cannot take for granted. Fraudsters and scammers make use of the digital information available to commit fraudulent activities. Whether they hack, steal or obtain the information through a scam, once your personal data is compromised, you may be a victim.
A common scenario is when monies in your bank account are withdrawn without your knowledge or consent, or you are charged with transactions under your credit card account which you did not make at a place that you had not been or for online purchases that you did not make. When something like this happens, the first thing you do is to contact your bank and notify them within a reasonable period of time after you discovered these fraudulent or unauthorised transactions. Keep any proof you have of these transactions being made (e.g. the bank statement) as a record. You should also record any communication you had with the bank through a formal correspondence to document that you had raised the matter with the bank. All banks would already have in place their own dispute resolution processes and they may also have a standard dispute form that you could fill up. If that is the case, your filling-up the bank’s official dispute form constitutes documentary proof that you had lodged a dispute.
In some cases verbal communication is all that is required by the bank (i.e. credit card disputes). These disputes are handled by the bank’s call centre that records all communications between the customer and the bank. You may still follow-up on that communication by issuing a formal letter that records down the conversation you had and stating your expectations of the bank and the desired outcome.
If the bank does not satisfactorily resolve your dispute, you as a financial consumer can also reach out to the various contact points that Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) has set up for assistance, for example, The Ombudsman for Financial Services (OFS) which is an alternative complaint / dispute resolution body that assists financial consumers to resolve their complaints with financial institutions.
A friendly loan is the term used when a person lends money to another person on a friendly basis. There is no interest charged in a friendly loan. In Malaysia, no interest can be charged by a lender if the lender does not hold a licence under the Moneylenders Act 1951. So unless you are a licensed money lender, you can only expect the repayment of amount you lent out and nothing more. Friendly loans however can turn bad. Consider the following scenario:
If the above sounds familiar to you, you need to understand that to safeguard yourself and give you a better chance to collect get back your money when you give out a loan, you need a written agreement. A friendly loan is still a loan and a monetary transaction. When it comes to monetary transactions it is best practice to have documented proof that the transaction was performed especially when it is a transaction of a personal nature. Although a verbal agreement is still legally a valid agreement, it is ultimately very difficult to substantiate the terms of a verbal agreement in the courts.
A typical loan agreement should include at the very least the following information:
Both the lender and the borrower have to sign the agreement and that’s it. Your loan agreement is done. So if the borrower does not pay you back the whole loan amount, you can then initiate steps to try to recover your money, confident in the fact that you have documentary proof of the loan. Your next step could be issuing a letter of demand (LOD) to demand that the borrower repay you the sum owing. If all else fails, then legal action may be required, at which time you are advised to seek legal advice.
Dealing with careless drivers
If you find yourself in an unfortunate accident caused solely from a careless driver resulting in damage to your motor vehicle, what do you do? Firstly, make a police report. Whether you are claiming compensation from the careless driver directly or making an insurance claim, a police report is essential. A police report records the incident and is a legal document that can be produced in court if legal action is taken. It also helps protect you from counter claims that the careless driver may make against you. For example, the careless driver may verbally agree to compensate you and asks that you do not file a police report but he or she subsequently makes a police report that describes the accident in favour of him or herself. Therefore, it is always recommended that you make a police report even if the damages are minor. If you choose not to make a police report you may face more challenges when seeking legal recourse. Remember you only have up to 24 hours from the time of the accident to make a police report.
If you and the careless driver had agreed on a settlement and the careless driver did not make good on the agreed compensation, you may then issue a letter of demand for compensation from the careless driver, provided of course that you had made the police report beforehand. After the letter of demand had been sent and there is still no action taken on the part of the careless driver to compensate you, then you may consider taking legal actions against the careless driver. At this point, you are advised to seek legal advice.
If you did not make a police report and you did not receive any compensation from the careless driver, your options for recourse are limited. You may end up having to pay for the repairs to your damaged motor vehicle yourself. If you wish to pursue legal actions at this stage, you are advised to seek legal advice.
To put it simply, a Power of Attorney, allows you to decide in advance whom you trust and choose (the Attorney) to act for you legally and financially, when you are unable to act for yourself. For instance, the Attorney can take care of/attend to your affairs when you are abroad.
The Powers of Attorney Act 1949 is the main legislation that governs the grant of power of attorney and is applicable only in the Peninsular of Malaysia.
A power of attorney must be authenticated, and a copy of it must be deposited with the High Court in Malaysia in accordance with the provisions prescribed under the Powers of Attorney Act 1949 for such power to be valid in the eyes of law.
In the event that the powers granted concern land-related matters, the power of attorney must be registered at the relevant land office where the land is located.
A power of attorney allows a person (the “Donor”) to appoint another person (“Donee” or “Attorney”) to give certain powers to the Attorney to act on behalf of the Donor.
It enables the Attorney to take care of/attend to the Donor’s affairs when the Donor is unable to do so; for example, the Donor cannot attend a business meeting because he/she is not in the country, the Attorney may then negotiate on his/her behalf at the meeting.
The Donor can choose to grant powers in relation to his/her general affairs, or the Donor can also stipulate for the power of attorney to be granted for specific purpose(s).
The Attorney’s authority to act on behalf of the Donor under a power of attorney will continue until the power of attorney is revoked by the Donor.
The Donor can revoke a power of attorney granted by the Donor, at any time, while the Donor still has mental capacity, by executing a deed of revocation.
To revoke a power of attorney, the deed of revocation must be authenticated, and in pursuance to Section 5 of the Powers of Attorney Act 1949, the Donor must also file the original and a copy of the deed of revocation together with the original power of attorney at the High Court in Malaysia where the power of attorney was registered.
If you wish to revoke a power of attorney granted by you to another person, you can refer to our legal document template on deed of revocation.
First, a little definition, the word property here refers to “real property” and is defined as land and buildings or things attached to that land. This means houses, shop lots, apartments, factories, office buildings and even an empty plot of land, to name some common examples.
Property is very much part of our daily life. Whether you are working or studying away from home you need a place to stay. When you start a business you look for a place to operate from. When you are ready to own a property you look for one to buy. If you are an owner you may want to let out your property. These are some common property situations that you will find yourself in as you go through life.
Read on to learn about tenancy agreements, sub-letting a property and having a contract for building works.
In Malaysia, tenancy refers to tenancy of a property for a period of not more than 3 years. A tenancy agreement is a contract between the person owning the property (“Landlord”) and the person renting the property (“Tenant”).
The terms and conditions of a tenancy agreement are commercially and mutually agreed between the Landlord and the Tenant. A tenancy agreement generally sets out the respective rights and obligations of the Landlord and the Tenant, the monthly rental to be paid by the Tenant, the duration of the tenancy, and the purpose for which the Tenant can use the property.
Generally, a landlord has the obligations and responsibilities to provide the Tenant with quiet enjoyment of the property, to pay all quit rent and assessment, to insure the property, and to ensure that the structure of the property is decent for staying.
On the other hand, a Tenant has the obligations and responsibilities to ensure the monthly rental is duly paid to the Landlord, and to comply with all the terms and conditions of the tenancy agreement.
As Malaysia does not have any specific laws in relation to tenancy, the tenancy agreement is the only document that both the Landlord and Tenant have that establishes their respective rights and obligations as Landlord and Tenant over the property. This is especially important when disputes arise between the Landlord and Tenant, where the tenancy agreement will be the main reference used in settling the dispute.
Remember, if you are the Landlord, do not take matters in your own hands when you have a dispute with your Tenant. There are certain legal procedures which you as the Landlord may need to comply with in dealing with your Tenant, For example, you will need to apply to a court of law to recover rental arrears and obtain a court order to recover possession of your property from the Tenant. When your problems with a difficult non-paying Tenant cannot be resolved amicably, seek legal advice.
In the event that you as a tenant wish to further sub-let a room or rooms in the rented property to your relatives, friends or colleagues, you are required to check the tenancy agreement which you have signed with the Landlord.
Most often, you will find that the tenancy agreement contains provision which prohibits the Tenant from sub-letting the rented property to another person without the prior written consent of the Landlord.
In such situation, you are required to write in to request for the Landlord’s consent to share the rented property. Remember if you fail to get written consent from your Landlord you risk having your tenancy terminated.
On the home front, if you are looking to renovate any sections of your home, consider using a small-scale building contract. A small-scale building contract is a contract between you and your contractor that you have engaged for renovation works on your house. The contract should set out the standard terms and conditions, such as the agreed total amount to pay, the scope of work, the obligations and responsibilities of the contractor, and your rights in the event that the contractor breaches the terms.
Having a small-scale building contract will help you avoid potential issues or misunderstandings when the work done does not go as planned or as expected. Having a contract protects your rights and helps ensure you get what you paid for.
While will writing is seen as a taboo among some of us, it is important to have a will because it will protect your family members, and also avoid disputes relating to your properties and assets.
A will is a legal document that sets out the individual (known as the Testator)’s final wishes upon his/her death. A will includes the Testator’s intentions on how his/her estates and assets are to be distributed after his/her death, his/her instructions on the appointment of an executor, the administration of his/her estates, and may also include his/her instructions on the conduct of his/her funeral arrangements.
In the event that a person dies without making a will, his/her assets will be distributed in accordance with the proportions as set out in the Distribution Act 1958, and not in accordance to the wishes or needs of the person’s family members.
A named executor can be an individual or a company (known as a "corporate trustee"). You may appoint a maximum of up to four (4) executors to jointly administer your estate. The executor, if an individual, should be at least 21 years of age, of sound mind and dependable.
If you had appointed more than one executors, should any one of the appointed executors die before you, then the remaining executor(s) will still be able to act on your behalf. As long as there is one surviving executor, the remaining executor is considered the executor for all preceding executors, and therefore empowered to act in accordance with your wishes.
Being an executor is not easy. The executor needs to understand that time, effort and knowledge of estate administration are required. Before you appoint an executor make sure that they understand the responsibilities they have to undertake for you and agree to be appointed. Consider appointing a corporate trustee as your executor. These specialised corporate institutions have the knowledge, resources and experience to execute your instructions effectively and since they are a corporate body, there is no fear of non-continuity (e.g. as in the case when an individual executor dies before you do).
It is recommended that you ensure that your family members or beneficiaries know who the executor(s) is or are, and how to contact them. Provide their names, address and contact numbers so that they can be quickly contacted in the event of your death. This will ensure the process of administrating your will and testament gets started without undue delay.
Your will can also include a clause to specify a guardian in the event that both you and your spouse die, leaving children under the age of 18. It is important that both you and your spouse consult with any proposed guardian and obtain their agreement. The appointment of guardians is subject to control by the court, which has the power in specified circumstances to bring any appointment to an end. For this reason, we do not recommend that you appoint any guardian who is domiciled or resident abroad.
Beneficiaries are persons or individuals you wish to bequeath your property to. Do note that beneficiaries must attain majority in terms of age, that is to say 18 years of age and above, at the time of your death to be able to take possession of the property bequeathed them. If any of your beneficiary is a minor or an individual below the age of 18 at the time of your death, by law, minors cannot take possession of any property in their own right. The property you bequeath to a minor will normally be held by a guardian under trust for the minor until the minor reaches the age of majority. However, if you so wish, you may still name a minor as a beneficiary but you will be required to appoint a guardian who will manage the property bequeathed to the minor on behalf of the minor until the minor reaches the age of majority, i.e., 18 years old.
Our property, motoring and Wills centres are designed to help you learn more about your special interest areas and the document templates that can help you manage your day-to-day legal needs.
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