Richard Malanjum, Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak (as he then was), answers the question on the effectiveness of having liquidated damages clauses in contracts and whether such clauses are enforceable in Malaysia in the recent Federal Court decision of Cubic Electronics Sdn Bhd (In liquidation) v Mars Telecommunications Sdn Bhd.
The Federal Court decision in the case of Selva Kumar Murugiah v Thiagarajah Retnasamy (“Selva Kumar”) on the scope of Section 75 of the Contracts Act 1950 (“S.75 CA”) has left many questioning the effectiveness of having liquidated damages clauses in contracts and whether such clauses are in fact enforceable in Malaysia. Many judges, lawyers and industry leaders share the view that liquidated damages clauses are effective and important means by which parties to a contract are able to negotiate and agree upon entering into the contract as to the compensation payable for non-performance of contractual obligations. Such clauses aim to reduce the need for costly and time-consuming court proceedings in the event of a breach and provide commercial certainty for contracting parties with regard to the risks they undertake in the contract. Judicial support for these liquidated damages clauses are found in most common law jurisdictions and their importance to the construction industry in particular is well recognised.