Home > OSH Legislation > Intro to Law for OSH Practitioners

Intro to Law for OSH Practitioners

There are many types of ‘law’. So many that even lawyers and attorneys couldn’t master every single one. As far as OSH is concerned there are several ‘laws’ you need to know and understand.

Statutory Law

  • Laws passed by Parliament through the legislative process, i.e. Acts of Parliament;
  • Acts of Parliament may empower the Executive to make regulations with the force of law – subsidiary legislation;
  • Spells out limits and repercussions, e.g. fine, punishment, liability.

Examples of Statutory Laws are:

  • Occupational Safety and Health Act 1996
  • Factories and Machineries Act 1967
  • Penal Code
  • Companies Act 1965
  • Sarawak Land Code 1958

Common Law

  • Law as a result of the judicial branch (courts);
  • Is as interpreted and decided by the judge;
  • Addresses ambiguity of Statutory Law.

Examples are:

  • Donoghue v. Stevenson [1932] AC 562
  • Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain v. Boots Cash Chemists (Southern) Ltd. [1953] 1 All ER 482

If statutory law is like a frame, common law is the adornments and accessories. Common law also refines the meaning of statutory law.

Civil Law

  • Between two parties who have [legal] interests, e.g. Government, individuals, companies, statutory bodies;
  • To compensate, restore, recover or compel;
  • To allow the parties to assert their rights;
  • Remedies are compensation, court orders, judicial actions etc.;
  • Claimant vs. Respondent;
  • Determined by probability.

Examples are:

  • Contract Act 1950
  • Stephen Kalong Ningkan v Government of Malaysia [1968] 1 MLJ 119
  • Malayan Banking Bhd v. Koay Kang Chuwan & Anor [2010] 6 CLJ 172
  • Sar-Alam Indah Sdn Bhd v. Chua Peng Hee [2010] 6 CLJ 240

Criminal Law

  • By the State (Deputy Public Prosecutors in the Attorney General’s Chambers);
  • To punish/Protection of the citizens by the State;
  • Repercussions are fines, imprisonment, expulsion or death sentence;
  • Prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt, and until then, the defendant is innocent until proven guilty.


  • Penal Code
  • PP v Loo Choon Fatt [1976] 2 MLJ 256
  • Lee Pin Seng v. PP [1986] 2 MLJ 416
Categories: OSH Legislation
  1. August 10, 2010 at 9:18 pm

    Statutory laws also include Ordinances and Enactments of the State Legislative Assemblies, by the way.

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