Consumer Tribunal: The Alternative Forum for Consumers

An alternative method for consumers to file claims against errant sellers.

Dispute between a consumer/buyer and a seller/supplier happens on daily basis. In the event of such unfortunate instances, what other recourse does a consumer/buyer has if all attempts to settle the matter amicably has failed? Bringing the matter to court will be one of the first things that would usually cross the mind of an aggrieved party. However, we will share with you an alternative recourse for an aggrieved consumer/buyer, i.e. filing a claim with the Tribunal for Consumer Claims[1].

What is a Consumer Tribunal?

The Tribunal for Consumer Claims or the Tribunal Tuntutan Pengguna Malaysia (the “Tribunal”) is an independent body established under the Consumer Protection Act[2] (the “Act”) and operates under the Ministry of Domestic Trade, Co-Operatives and Consumerism.

The Tribunal is set up to provide an alternative forum for consumers to file claims against errant supplier or seller in a simple, inexpensive and speedy manner.

Who is a Consumer?

Generally, a Consumer is a person who buys goods and/or services for his/her personal use or for domestic or household purposes.

Jurisdiction of the Consumer Tribunal

The tribunal have jurisdiction to hear:

  1. Claims by a consumer  against a supplier, seller or trader; or
  2. Claims in respect of goods or services supplied whereby remedy for specific dispute has not been clearly defined in any existing laws.

The precursor for to file a claim at the Tribunal is as follows:

  1. The claim should not exceed RM25,000.00[3], unless the parties involved have agreed in writing to allow the tribunal to hear claims exceeding RM25,000.00 in value; and
  2. The claim is to be filed within 3 years from the time such claim arose[4].

However, the Tribunal does not have jurisdiction for claims that fall under the categories below[5]:

  1. Dispute in relation to land matters, including claims on interest and title in land;
  2. Dispute in relation to wills and probate, good will, and personal rights over property, trade secret or intellectual property;
  3. Dispute in relation to aviation services as defined under the Malaysian Aviation Commission Act[6];
  4. Claims that is pending determination by other tribunals; or
  5. Claims arising from personal injury or death.

How do I file a Tribunal Claim?

  1. Obtain Form 1 from the Tribunal office, complete the form (make four copies) and file it with the Tribunal office along with a filing fee of RM5.00.
  2. Upon filing, the forms will be registered, dated and signed by the Tribunal’s secretary or assistant secretary. The Tribunal seal will be affixed onto the forms.
  3. Two copies of the sealed Form 1 will be returned to the claimant for service:
    1. To an individual
      1. Leave it with the person; or
      2. Post it in a pre-paid registration letter addressed to the person’s address of service or last known address.
    2. To a company or firm
      1. Leave the document with the director, manager, secretary, or other similar officers of the company or proprietor of the firm; or
      2. Post it in a pre-paid registration letter to any person mentioned above at the registered office of the company or firm or its last known address.
  4. A respondent who receives such a claim can file defence and counter-claim (if any) in Form 2, similar to the steps taken in point (1) – (4).
  5. If the claimant receives a counter-claim, he must file his defence to the counter claim in Form 3, similar to the steps taken in point (1) – (4).

Tribunal Hearing

Upon a claim being lodged with the Tribunal, the secretary or assistant secretary to the Tribunal will issue and serve both the claimant and the respondent a Notice of Hearing in Form 4, which will detail the date, place and time of the Hearing.

Unlike a court case, neither party is to be represented by a lawyer during the Tribunal hearing. The parties can either represent themselves, or if the claimant is a minor or a disabled person, he/she may be represented by a next friend or guardian. If the respondent is a company or a firm, it may be represented by its full time paid employee.

The Tribunal hearing will be presided over by a member of the Tribunal (“the President”). The President’s role is to assist the parties in conducting their cases, with the aim of effecting a consensual settlement to the claim.

Like a court hearing, every party to the hearing is entitled to adduce evidence and call witnesses to support his/her case. All Tribunal hearings are opened to the public.

Tribunal Award/Settlement

At the end of the Tribunal hearing, there will either be an agreed settlement between the parties, or an award will be made by the President. The decision of the tribunal is final and binding[7]. The tribunal’s decision is enforceable to the same extent as a Magistrate Court order[8]. Anyone who fails to comply with the award/settlement made within 14 days can be liable to a fine not exceeding RM5,000.00 or to imprisonment not exceeding two years or both[9].

However, any party dissatisfied with an award of the Tribunal can file an application for Judicial Review to the High Court for the award to be reconsidered. The Tribunal will not be involved in the process of the Judicial Review.

[1] Ministry of Domestic Trade, Co-operatives & Consumerism,
[2] Section 85, Consumer Protection Act 1999
[3] Section 98, Ibid.
[4] Section 99 (2), Ibid.
[5] Section 99 (1)(a) – (d).
[6] 2015.
[7] Section 116 (1)(a), Consumer Protection Act 1999.
[8] Section 116 (1)(b), Ibid.
[9] Section 117 (1), Ibid.