A few recent legislative developments are noteworthy – for instance, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act 2009, the Rules of Court 2012, the Rules of the Court of Appeal 1994, the Rules of the Federal Court 1995, the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1994, the Courts of Judicature Act 1964 and the Competition Act 2010.
Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act 2009 (“MACC Act 2009”)
In 2018, the Parliament of Malaysia enacted s.17A of the MACC Act 2009, which introduced corporate liability of commercial organisations as well as personal liability of officers and directors in relation to bribery offences. This new Section came into effect on 1.6.2020.
With the COVID pandemic, some respite was given to commercial organisations to take adequate measures to fortify themselves against bribery within the organisation. Thus far, we have seen one prosecution under this regime, in March of 2021.
In terms of workflow, we have experienced an influx of enquiries and advisories as to how commercial organisations should become s.17A-compliant.
Moving forward, we expect to see more requests for assistance to implement adequate measures and more prosecutions being initiated for breaches of the MACC regime.
Rules of Court 2012 (“ROC 2012”), Rules of the Court of Appeal 1994 (“ROCA 1994”), Rules of the Federal Court 1995 (“ROFC 1995”)
The amendments to the ROC 2012, ROCA 1994 and ROFC 1995 were largely driven by the need to conduct hearings and legal proceedings online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
These amendments now allow various proceedings to be conducted through a remote communication technology as approved by the courts. The ROC 2012 further allows for the service of certain documents using electronic filing service.
This facilitates the dispute resolution practice and reduces formalities in finding and tracing potential defendants.
Courts of Judicature Act 1964 (“CJA 1964”)
The CJA has recently been amended to restrict the appellate jurisdiction of the High Court and the Court of Appeal in respect of interlocutory applications decided by the subordinate courts.
The amendment removes the right to appeal against dismissals of summary determination decisions such as a decision to strike out a claim or to enter judgement in respect of a claim, without a determination at trial. The purpose is to shorten the time taken to complete each case and to limit the appeal opportunities where summary determination has been unsuccessful.
This change took effect as of 1.10.2022.
This will require more careful consideration in taking summary disposal proceedings where the facts are less than clear. That apart, we do not see an impact to our litigation practice in this respect.
The courts have continued with virtual proceedings, which has facilitated the quick determination and disposal of cases involving foreign parties, some of whom are still limited or hampered by the COVID-19 regimes in their jurisdictions.
Occupational Safety and Health Act 1994 (“OSHA 1994”)
The amendment to the OSHA 1994 introduces more accountability within commercial organisations.
Most significantly, the application of OSHA 1994 has been extended to “all places of work” and is no longer limited to a certain industry, enlarging the scope of liability of employers.
In this regard, we expect to see more regulatory and advisory work relating to corporate responsibility in this field and how the courts will enforce such statutory duties.
Competition Act 2010 (“CA 2010”)
Another recent development is the introduction of, among other things, a merger control regime by virtue of the pending amendment to the Competition Act 2010.
While at the time of writing, the amendment bill has yet to be tabled to Parliament, it is expected that the amendment bill would seek to greatly enhance the Malaysia Competition Commission (MyCC)’s investigation and enforcement powers in tackling anti-competitive mergers.
This incoming legislative change will result in an increased number of merger control advisories and filings for our competition law practice.