The need for legislative reform of the privity doctrine in commercial contracts in Malaysia : a comparative analysis

Mahmood, Anida (2013) The need for legislative reform of the privity doctrine in commercial contracts in Malaysia : a comparative analysis. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


This thesis commences with the proposition that the first limb of the doctrine of privity causes injustice to third party beneficiaries in Malaysia, particularly in commercial contracts. The doctrine of privity has been the subject of criticism by the judiciary and academic commentators in common law jurisdictions, mainly directed at the first limb of the doctrine, whereby only parties to a contract can sue and be sued. The first limb prevents a third party from enforcing benefits conferred on them by those contracts thereby resulting in third parties suffering loss and injustice to those parties. In several common law countries, such as England, Australia, New Zealand and Singapore, legislative reform of the doctrine has occurred. The legislative reform has abrogated to a significant extent the doctrine of privity in commercial contracts. Malaysia is a common law country, where the doctrine of privity is still applied to contracts. An analysis of Malaysian case law demonstrates that the most affected third party beneficiaries are those seeking to enforce insurance and construction contracts. While a small number of other third parties to commercial contracts, such as agreements to pay for work done, sale and purchase agreements and tenancy agreements are also affected, the detriment is not as significant. As a consequence, this thesis focuses primarily on the impact of the doctrine of privity on commercial contracts in the areas of insurance and construction in Malaysia The thesis aims to recommend appropriate reforms to address the injustices arising from the privity doctrine for third parties seeking to obtain the benefit of insurance and construction contracts, which may also benefit third parties to other types of commercial contracts. While the Malaysian insurance, consumer protection, negotiable instruments and agency laws allow third party beneficiaries to enforce benefits in contracts, the rights are found to be inadequate. As not all third parties seeking to enforce an insurance or construction contract can rely upon the legislation, the injustice arising from the doctrine of privity remains and needs to be addressed. To achieve this aim, a comparative analysis of the rights of third party beneficiaries under insurance and construction contracts in Malaysia, Australia and England is undertaken. The results of the analysis are used to identify appropriate elements for a legislative framework guided by the three essential criteria for effective law reform developed in the thesis. The three criteria are certainty, public interest and justice.

The thesis recommends first the enactment of general legislation applicable to all commercial contracts including insurance contracts. Secondly, the thesis recommends specific targeted legislation to address the injustice faced by third party beneficiaries in construction contracts.

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ID Code: 64243
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Christensen, Sharon & Dixon, Bill
Keywords: doctrine of privity, third party rule, third party beneficiaries, Malaysian commercial contracts- insurance contracts, construction contracts, legislative reform
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Law
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 11 Nov 2013 06:59
Last Modified: 07 Sep 2015 22:30

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