Even Law Students can have a Life

Congratulations & Welcome to Law School!

Congratulations, you’ve successfully completed your foundation, diploma or STPM! And you have received the offer letter from the Law School you applied to!

If you survived the Orientation Week and met your seniors in many ways than one, you will start to hear the horror stories of Law School! And I’m not talking about the ghost at Level 13. The failure rate, lecturers who enjoy torturing with the innocent brains of young and helpless undergraduates like yourself. Maybe you’ve even earned that death stare yourself. Or at least your classmate. Ok.. Ok.. I’m exagerating a bit. But it’s always normal for seniors to hand down ‘how to tackle the lecturer’ tips and tricks.

After the 3rd week, work begins to flood your table. The lecturer wants you to read the cases and present them during the tutorials. Or even worse: the lecturer and tutor have no idea what each other is doing! And you know so well the price of not reading all those long, daunting, bombastic cases – public humiliation in front of your classmates. Yeah, the lecturer will not appear in leather and cracking a whip, but her comments and snide remarks is enough to burn through anything.

Where did all the lovey-dovey Law School image go?

When you’re overwhelmed with work, now you start to feel the weight of Law School. Gone were the image you had, which looked like a lost scene from Ella Enchanted.

Remember it’s Still University…

Don’t rob yourself of your recreational activities. If you’re into football or rugby, make time to play on the field at least every weekend. When reading the latest romance novel by Somefamous Novelist while sipping a nice warm cup of Milo is your thing, do it. Heck, if you enjoy PC games, why not!

As they say, if you work hard, make sure you play hard!

Watch your health. Yes, instant noodles can fill your tummy up – especially when your wallet and purse are dead from bleeding and there’s a draught in your bank account. Learn to cook vegetable. Buy up a stock for 3 days and cook. Nothing too fancy – as long as you can take it. You need carbohidrates, though you can try to avoid starch.

Learn to budget. Get rid of destructive expenses – yes, this includes that significant other who you cannot live without that’s demanding all your posessions be their’s. If you really want a partner, get someone who understands that you are a student. Don’t bother impressing them with gifts from the 1st day, coz the moment you do, you’re expected to – otherwise they think you don’t love them anymore.

If you can afford to set aside RM90 per month, sign up to go to gym. But there are many workout facilities you can access for free. A strong body paves way to a strong mind. Want to save cost, join a sports club on campus.

Learn to manage your emotions and mood. There are many sources you can refer to. A simple gesture such as praying can go a long way. If you know neurolinguistic programming (NLP), you can use it. No harm buying Adam Khoo’s I am Gifted, So Are You and Master Your Mind, Design Your Destiny. Tony Buzan’s books are also great. You can always go up to a counsellor or a priest. Neither two can speak about what you confide in them by Law and by faith.

Whatever you indulge in, make sure it’s balanced out. Otherwise you’d end up in trouble some aspects in your life.

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Calling for Contributors… Again!

This has been said before, but again we cannot stress enough how “understaffed” this law blog is, so please, those of you who visit, if you guys are law students, think about contributing as well.

The qualifications required to be had are not much. They are that you should be;

1. A law student or a young lawyer (fresh grads or practising for a few years);

2. Be willing to write quality articles and share your experiance;

3. Believe that you can make a difference.

You will be required to make regular contributions on everything there is to do involving law (after all this is all and sundry on Malaysia legally), but posts must be neutral. Neutral means not showing sympathies with any particular groups nor showing any ideological inclinations, and sticking with the facts.

If any of you are interested, please leave a reply in comments and we will get back to you. – Admin.

Limitation of civil actions

To sue or not to sue. This was the opening line of a recent post detailing what a cause of action is and when it accrues. However it is equally relevant to this post for, should one choose to dwell on the question for too long, one might find it too late to even sue anymore!

This is because of the existence of what is called limitation period in law, that is, there is a definate time frame for one to commence legal action, and to wait beyond such a frame would render the cause defeated for being time barred, or more accurately, statute barred. The reason why the term statute barred is more accurate is because usually such periods are never proscribed in common law but imposed by statute, because the state considers it good that there should be a definate end to litigation after a while, tho the doctrine of laches under equity could have played a contributory role as well.

By the way, while this issue was discussed a little in the first mentioned post above, the purpose of this article is to expand and elaborate just a little bit more on what limitations of civil actions actually are.

In Malaysia, the principal statute of limitation is the Limitation Act 1953, which was first enacted as the Limitation Ordinance 1953 (F.M. Ordinance No. 4 of 1953) on 9 February 1953 and is based on the English Limitation Act 1939 which has since been replaced in Britain by the Limitation Act 1980. Section 4 of the Act cautions that nothing therein shall operate as a bar to any action or proceeding unless expressly pleaded.

The Act proscribes different periods of limitations depending on different types of causes of action that arise. For actions relating to torts and contracts generally the period is six years from when the cause accrued, imposed by section 6. The effect could be potentially unjust, as can be gleamed from the case of Loh Wau Lian v SEA Housing Corp Sdn Bhd [1984] 2 MLJ 280. In that case, a house was delivered late, namely, delivered on 7 November 1977 instead of 18 September 1975 as promised. The plaintiff claimed the agreed liquidated damages of 8% per annum for late delivery and filed his or her action on 9 September 1982. The defendant contended that the action should be considered time barred. The apex court agreed with the defendant.

Where there has been a fraud or concealment however, the Limitation Act 1953 provides for an exception. Section 29 of the Act states that where an action is based upon the fraud of the defendant or his agent or where any fact relevant to the plaintiff’s cause of action was delibrately concealed or where such an action is based on mistake, the time of six years does not run until the discovery of the fraud, concealment or mistake by the plaintiff. The effect of this section is plainly seen in the case of Lim Yoke Kong v Sivapiran s/o Sabapathy [1992] 2 MLJ 571 where the defendant’s insurers took great pains to conceal themselves from the knowledge of the plaintiff and thus the latter’s claim was not held statute barred as a result. Limitation periods also do not run where a plaintiff  is under disability until the expiry of such a disability under section 24 of the Act.

It should be noted that generally courts do not have power to enlarge the limitation period when asked (See Lee Lee Cheng v Seow Peng Kwang [1960] 26 MLJ 1) but there are circumstances where the limitation period itself is renewable, such as in the instance where debt is acknowledged or part payment is made in respect thereof under section 26 of the Act. Section 27 further qualifies this however, by stating that such acknowledgment must be in writing. The claimant is required to specifically plead this acknowledgment or else it would be struck out as held in the case of Mat bin Lim & Anor v Ho Yat Kam & Anor [1967] 1 MLJ 13.

Section 9 of the Act states that where an action is made in respect of land and the recovery thereof, the period of limitation would be 12 years. However this does not apply in delays for an action of specific performance, for example, because the owner would already have equitable title in the land. In Chee Hock Lai v Tan Swee Thai & Ors [1990] 2 MLJ 477 the plaintiff purchased land from an administrator of an estate and entered into possession more than 40 years before the filing of the action by the plaintiff. The plaintiff was never given title to the land despite several requests. Hence, the court opined that the delay was justified and ordered specific performance. In Ungku Sulaiman Bin Abd Majid & Anor v Director of Lands and Mines, State of Johor & Anor it was held that where property was wrongly acquired, time remained at large and the law of limitation would be inapplicable.

Section 20 of the Act bars action in respect of recovery of rent arrears after the expiry of six years on which they become due.

Although the Limitation Act 1953 is the principal statute of limitations within Malaysia, it is indeed not the only statute of limitation in force. Section 3 of the Act provides that the Act is inapplicable where the Government is involved and indeed the Government protects itself by virtue of section 2 of the Public Authorities Protection Act 1948 which reads;

Where, after the coming into force of this Act, any suit, action, prosecution or other proceeding is commenced within the Federation against any person for any act done in pursuance or execution or intended execution of any written law or of any public duty or authority or in respect of any alleged neglect or default in the execution of any such written law, duty or authority the following provisions shall have effect.

a) the suit, action, prosecution or proceeding shall not lie or be instituted unless it is commenced within thirty six months next after the ceasing thereof…

This provision was tested in the case of Lee Hock Ning v Government of Malaysia [1972] 2 MLJ 12 where the Government failed to make good some payments in respect of some building contracts. The Government contended that such contracts were made persuant to a public duty and this the plaintiff’s claim was statuted barred with reference to section 2 of the Public Authorities Protection Act 1948. The court opined that non payment of monies owed was not in persuance of a public duty and accordingly allowed the claim.