The government says the creation of a special ombudsman for the automotive industry to resolve disputes between consumers and vehicle companies is one of the mechanisms it is looking into as it works towards the creation of legislation related to the lemon law, which it has said it hopes to introduce sometime next year.

According to domestic trade and cost of living (KPDN) minister Datuk Armizan Mohd Ali, the ministry is aiming to have the ombudsman work as an interim measure in resolving complaints, Bernama reports. He said that ministry had at the start of June established a special team to serve as facilitators for user complaints related to motor vehicles in the country.

“The method used is a tripartite negotiation between the ministry, the car buyer (consumer) and the distributor or manufacturer. Through this special negotiation platform, it is hoped that we will to be able to find a fair and balanced solution for all parties,” he said in parliament.

Armizan said this in response to a question from Syahredzan Johan (PH-Bangi) regarding the proposal to establish an ombudsman in Malaysia, so that the lemon law becomes more holistic and effective when it is implemented.

He said the approach could reduce the cost and duration of settlement, offering an alternative to the court process and other legal procedures. He added that the ministry will get feedback from the industry on their readiness to be involved in the ombudsman scheme.

Lemon law in Malaysia – KPDN looking at establishing an ombudsman to resolve vehicle complaint disputes

He added that the ministry will also look into all laws that are relatable to the lemon law in its study, which began last June and is expected to be completed in September. “This includes several acts and regulations across ministries and agencies in Malaysia such as the Contract Act 1950, the Sale of Goods Act 1957 and the Hire Purchase Act 1967,” he said.

Armizan said that the government would also look into whether it needs to improve the existing legislation of the Consumer Protection Act 1999 or create new legislation for it. He added that the findings will serve as the foundation for policy decisions at the ministry level, guiding the development of a comprehensive and conducive legal framework in line with current demands.

A lemon law is a form of consumer protection, and there have been many calls to implement it here in the past. In essence, it requires cars under warranty that are found to be defective or unsafe to be fully repaired by the manufacturer. In the event the vehicle is deemed to be irreparable after a reasonable number of repair attempts, the buyer can be offered a refund or replacement.

The scope of what is covered by a lemon law vary depending on how it is implemented, but it generally overs defects that can significantly impact the functionality or safety of the car. Countries such as the United States, Australia, Canada, Singapore and the Philippines have already adopted some form of lemon law.

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