Dr Ibtisam @ Ilyana Ilias from the Faculty of Law, Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTMLaw), who specialises in consumer protection law, was selected by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH (GIZ) to participate in a regional project, Consumer Protection in ASEAN (PROTECT).
This project strives to strengthen the national consumer protection systems of the ASEAN member states through regional and country-level assistance. Under this project, she was assigned to conduct a desk study on the needs and gaps in the consumer redress system in Malaysia and formulate policy recommendations with reference to selected international best practices.
Her involvement in the project commenced from 15 July 2021 until 15 September 2021.
The study examined seven consumer redress mechanisms established in Malaysia, namely the Small Claims Court, the Tribunal for Consumer Claims, the Tribunal for Homebuyer Claims, the Securities Investment Dispute Resolution Centre, the Ombudsman for Financial Services and the Malaysian Aviation Commission.
The establishment of these alternative dispute resolution (ADR) institutions reflects the government’s commitment to reinforce consumer protection, mainly by providing simple, cheap and flexible redress mechanisms to deal with disputes involving consumers. The study also appraised the role of the different actors, including regulators, ADR bodies, industry players and consumer associations towards elevating the efficiency of these dispute settlement mechanisms.
The study highlighted that Malaysia has developed a laudable consumer redress regime that enables consumers to uphold their legal rights when faced with negative experiences in their dealings with goods and services providers. Several recommendations were formulated to ensure more effective performance and delivery of these dispute settlement mechanisms. The proposals include strengthening collaboration among ADR bodies locally, regionally and internationally to refine their services and adopt best practices.
Furthermore, the study held the view that there is a need to plan continuous quality improvements in terms of organisational capability or capacity building and technology infrastructure. Additionally, leveraging various social media, websites and mass media to increase consumer awareness is also a vital step to raise consumer awareness of the existence and functions of different consumer redress mechanisms. Lastly, Dr Ibtisam @ Ilyana’s involvement in the project presented an avenue for regional exposure and networking.