Civil Proceedings in Malaysia: Who Can Represent You in Court?

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General Rule on Representation in Civil Proceedings in Malaysia

In civil proceedings, a person has the right to sue in person[1], i.e. in your name however, the same may not apply to other types of legal entities. 

Who cannot represent themselves in legal proceedings?

Body corporate

Under the Companies Act (‘CA’)[2], any corporate entity is a body corporate. This may include any foreign companies, limited liability partnership and foreign limited liability partnership[3].

A body corporate cannot be represented by its directors or officers unless it is permitted by a specific written law or where the court in its discretion allows (in exceptional cases) a director to act on behalf of the company[4].

In a civil proceeding, a Body Corporate must be represented by a solicitor[5].

Partnership

A partnership is defined as a business which is carried out by two or more person in the view to make a profit out such business[6]. In such circumstances, they have to bring an action in the name of the firm, and any action against them must be brought against them as well[7].

Sole proprietorship

An individual who carried a business alone is a sole proprietorship. A person who operates a sole proprietorship must bring an action against others in his own name[8]. However, he can be sued in his name or his business name[9].

In civil proceedings, upon the sole proprietor’s death, neither he nor the firm operating the business can be sued[10].

Societies / Youth societies

Societies and youth societies can bring an action in the name of one of their members or in the name of one of their public officers[11].

Others bring an action against the society or youth society in the name of their public officer or, in the absence of a public officer, in the name of any office-bearer of that society[12].

Person under disabilities

A person under disability is a person who is 18 years and below (as prescribed in the Age of Majority Act[13]) or a person who is deemed to be mentally unfit (as prescribed in Mental Health Act[14]).

Any civil proceedings by or against a person under disability must be brought by their litigation representative on their behalf[15] and the matter must be represented by a solicitor[16]

Deceased person

When a person passes on, all actions survive the deceased, with the exception[17] of:

  1. Defamation;
  2. Seduction;
  3. Inducing one spouse to leave or remain; or 
  4. Damages on the ground of adultery.

In such a situation, a person may obtain an order to carry on the proceedings on behalf of the deceased[18], for example:

  1. An executor can carry on the proceedings and they do not have to wait to extract the grant of probate to do so[19]. They cannot be sued unless the grant of probate has been extracted[20];
  2. An administrator cannot carry on the civil proceedings without first extracting the letter of administration[21]. They cannot be sued unless the letter of administration has been extracted[22];
  3. If it is joint civil proceedings, the surviving plaintiffs may carry on the proceedings without the need of a personal representative of the deceased.

An action can be struck out by the court if the personal representative does not apply for an order to carry on the proceedings[23].

Representative actions

To prevent duplicity of civil proceedings another person or entity, an individual or a group of individuals can represent a group of individuals in court in a single suit[24] if[25]:

  1. They belong to a class of people with a common interest;
  2. They have common grievances; and
  3. The relief benefits everyone in the group

.civil proceedings in malaysia


1. Order 5 Rule 6 (2), Rules of Court 2012
2. Section 3, Companies Act 2016
3. Ibid
4. Arbuthnot Leasing International Ltd v Havelet Leasing Ltd & Ors [1991] 1 All ER 591
5. Order 5 Rule 6 (2), Rules of Court 2012
6. Section 3(1), Partnership Act 1961
7. Order 77 Rule 1, Rules of Court 2012
8. Order 77 Rule 9, Rule of Court 2012
9.  Ibid
10. Mohamed Mustafa v Shaik Ahmad [1972] 2 MLJ 241
11. Section 9 (c) Societies Act 1966 and Section 11 (c) Youth Societies and Youth Development Act 2007
12. Ibid
13. Section 4, Age of Majority Act 1971
14. 2001
15. Order 76 Rule 2 (2), Rules of Court 2012
16. Order 76 Rule 2 (3), Rules of Court 2012
17. Section 8(1), Civil Law Act 1956
18. Order 15 Rule 7 (2), Rules of Court 2012
19. Meyappa Chetty v Subramaniam Chetty [1916] 1 AC 603
20. Comptroller of Income Tax v Yan Tai Min [1965] 1 MLJ 255
21. Ang Hoi Yin v Sim Sie Hau [1969] 2 MLJ 3
22. Comptroller of Income Tax v Yan Tai Min [1965] 1 MLJ 255
23. Order 15 Rule 9 (1), Rules of Court 2012
24. Order 15 Rule 12, Ibid
25. Palmco Holdings Bhd v Sakapp Commodities (M) Sdn Bhd & Ors [1988] 2 MLJ 624

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