Friday, 27 August 2010

FELDA loses civil suit because its own lawyer did not attend trial?

Updated post 29 August 2010:

Felda to punish lawyers over settlers’ suit

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 27 — Felda will take action against a legal firm which was involved in its suit against 354 settlers at Felda Kemahang 3 in Kelantan.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Ahmad Maslan said Felda was currently studying suitable action to be taken against the firm which had caused the agency to lose its suit against the settlers.

“The absence of the lawyer during the hearing due to technical reasons were very much regretted and has tarnished Felda’s good name,” he said in a statement to the media after the Umno Supreme Council meeting here today.

Yesterday, the Federal Court dismissed Felda’s application to review its ruling which denied the agency leave to appeal against the Kota Baharu High Court’s decision on Jan 13, 2008.

With the decision, Felda will now have to pay RM11 million in general damages and interest to the settlers.

Ahmad said it was feared the case would be misinterpreted by other settlers as the agency was now facing two other charges for manipulating oil palm grading filed by the settlers in Felda Maokil, Pagoh and Felda Gugusan Raja Alias in Negeri Sembilan.

“I would like to stress that the Federal Court ruling was not due to fraud or conspiracy committed by Felda as alleged by certain quarters,” he said.

Ahmad said every transaction was made in a transparent manner and the sales and purchase receipts were given to each Felda settler who sold the oil palm yield to the Felda factory.

“If they don’t agree with what was stated in the receipt, they should bring it up to the factory immediately, and not make a compilation of fraud allegations over a long period of time,” he said.

Hence, he also reminded the settlers not to be influenced by any quarters, especially those with personal interests, to file a legal suit against Felda. — Bernama

Original Post

Rather strange news about lawyer not attending trial for Felda from Bernama:

Felda loses case because lawyer did not attend trial
August 26, 2010

BANDAR SERI JEMPOL, Aug 26 – Felda has ordered its lawyer to release a sum of RM11 million to the law firm representing 354 Felda Kemahang 3 settlers in the wake of the Federal Court’s decision today, its chairman Tan Sri Dr Yusof Noor said today.

Dr Yusof said Felda lost the case because its lawyer did not attend the trial, depriving it of the opportunity to defend itself.

The settlers sued Felda in 2002, seeking between RM20,000 and RM30,000 each in general damages, claiming that the agency had understated the quality of their oil palm fruits during the period from 1996 to 2002 which caused them to suffer losses.

On January 13, 2008, the Kota Baharu High Court ordered the agency to pay RM7.8 million plus interest to the settlers after its counsel failed to turn up for the hearing of the suit, and decided in their favour after accepting the evidence of three witnesses.

The amount had since increased to RM11 million with accumulated interest, with each settler expected to receive about RM30,000. – Bernama

I have assisted in defence of many civil suits by individual/individuals against companies in my time, I have known of lawyers who discharged themselves from cases but really never heard of a lawyer not attending the trial thereby causing his client to lose a civil suit. This suit started in 2002, I presume unless there are changes in the lawyer set up, the same Law firm must have represented FELDA.

FELDA will also have its own in house legal advisors to monitor this suit which would have far and wide implication against the Felda Management, wonder what they are doing in their job, makan gaji buta ke.

Anyway, unless there is anything to the contrary I think the non attending Lawyer representing Felda must be named so that the public is spared of irresponsible lawyers and Law Firm who do not guard the interest of their client in Malaysia. Kalau syarikat saya ada kes sivil tentu saya tak mahu ambil firma peguam inilah.

Beside asking show cause why the lawyer did not attend the first trial in the High Court, I think Felda's Dr Yusop should also make a complaint to the Majlis Peguam (Bar Council) so that the matter can be investigated by them professionally and maybe some form of punishment could be meted out against the non attending Lawyers for tarnishing the image and bringing shame to the Bar.

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