Legal Updates for May 2022

Malaysian Franchise (Amendment) Act 2020: Key Changes

The franchise industry in Malaysia is governed by the Franchise Act 1998 ("the 1998 Act") which regulates, among others, the registration system and enforcement of franchise businesses in Malaysia. The Franchise (Amendment) Act 2020 ("the Amendment Act"), which brings about some changes to the 1998 Act, was gazetted on 6 March 2020 and has come into force on 28 April 2022. 

In this Update, we highlight some of the more significant changes introduced by the Amendment Act.

Online Gambling in Malaysia – not "legally" illegal? - Public Prosecutor v Multi Electrical Supply & Services & 105 Others

Online gambling has been increasing in popularity over the past few years in Malaysia, especially during and after the pandemic. Despite the then Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s promise to table amendments to the Common Gaming Houses Act 1953 ("CGHA") in 2017, the then Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s statement in Dewan Rakyat back in 2019 that the government intends to amend gambling laws to include provisions which deal with online gambling, and the government’s abhorrence of online gambling, to date, the status of online gambling remains a grey area in Malaysia. Laws such as the CGHA and the Betting Act 1953 have not caught up with the times and have not been updated to include express provisions to define and regulate online gambling in Malaysia.

The recent High Court decision in Public Prosecutor v Multi Electrical Supply & Services & 105 Others appears to suggest that online gambling is not illegal in Malaysia, due to the absence of express provisions or laws regulating online gambling in Malaysia. The Court refused to read into a relevant provision of the CGHA anything which would suggest that it can be used to establish the offence of online gambling. The Court further stated that it is not the duty of the court to fill in the blanks in the law when the legislators have yet to rise to the task.

The case highlights the need for the CGHA and other relevant laws to be reviewed and revised to keep up with the times and to close the loopholes.


Indonesia’s Palm Oil Export Ban and PORAM Contracts

Indonesia’s month-long ban on the export of thermal coal in January 2022 to satisfy the demands of the domestic market; the Venezuelan oil strike of 2002-2003, which reduced Venezuela’s export to almost nothing for several months; and, the nationalisation of Libyan oil assets in August 1973 resulting in oil companies turning to the more distant Middle East producers for oil supplies. 

To these crises that have rocked commodity trade, we can now add Indonesia’s 2022 palm oil export ban.

 The ban by the world’s biggest edible oils shipper has sparked concerns over global food prices, with palm oil being ubiquitous in food commodities such as cooking oil, ice cream, and spreads. The ban has also shocked global markets with the swiftness of its implementation and the breadth of its coverage.

 This article will discuss the effect of the ban on parties who have contracted on standard-form Palm Oil Refiners Association of Malaysia ("PORAM") contracts and the options available to them following the ban.

The New Geographical Indications Act 2022: Key Changes

What is a geographical indication ("GI")? A GI is essentially a sign or geographical term used on products for the purposes of indicating the place of origin. The use of a GI would also serve as indication of the good qualities and characteristics of the said products which are attributable to that place of origin.

GIs in Malaysia were initially protected by the Geographical Indications Act 2000 ("previous Act"). However, a new Geographical Indications Act 2022 ("new GI Act"), which effectively repeals the previous Act, came into operation on 18 March 2022. This new GI Act seeks to provide a wider scope of protection to GI proprietors and more clarity in relation to the examination procedure for the registration of GIs.

This Update highlights the new and significant changes introduced by the new GI Act.