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Federal Malaysia: Court dismisses negligence suit against Govt

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  • Federal Malaysia: Court dismisses negligence suit against Govt


    Federal Court dismisses negligence suit against Govt

    PUTRAJAYA: A negligence suit filed by 184 pig farmers and the next of kin of those who died in the 1998/1999 Nipah virus epidemic against the Government has been thrown out by the Federal Court.

    The apex court ruled that the Government was not liable for the losses caused by the Nipah virus.

    Chief Judge of Malaya Datuk Arifin Zakaria who sat with Federal Court Justices Datuk Nik Hashim Nik Ab Rahman and Datuk Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin unanimously allowed with costs the Government’s appeal against the Court of Appeal decision in favour of the plaintiffs.

    Reading the judgment, Nik Hashim said the pig farmers’ claim was not sustainable and therefore must be struck out.

    The farmers and the others had sought various damages, including for the loss of pigs, damage to farm facilities and medical and funeral expenses amounting to RM136mil.

    In the suit, they named the federal govern*ment and Negri Sembilan, Perak and Selangor governments as defendants and accused them of being negligent in handling the virus outbreak in September 1998.

    They claimed that their losses were caused by the defendants’ negligence, breach of fiduciary duty and breach of statutory duty.

    The High Court Senior Assistant Registrar struck out the suit on Feb 4, 2004, and this was affirmed by the High Court.

    On April 5, 2005, the Court of Appeal allowed the plaintiffs’ appeal and ordered the case to be tried and disposed of speedily at the High Court.

    Following this, the Government brought the case to the Federal Court.

    In the judgment yesterday, the Federal Court said it agreed with the Government’s submission that the pig farmers’ pleading reveal that the claim was not one of continuous tort but relates to specific acts or omissions, namely failing to take steps to determine the cause of the outbreak of the virus and failing to refer or send samples to the right experts for examination.

    He said all these events happened earlier than March 1, 1999.

    “The decision made on March 18, 1999, and March 19, 1999, to cull the pigs were actually not challenged. Therefore, since the suit was filed on March 20, 2002, the action was clearly time barred as it was filed out of time,” said Nik Hashim.

    He said the Court of Appeal and the Federal Court had consistently struck out claims when it was clear that the statute of limitations would be relied on or raised. — Bernama

  • #2
    Re: Federal Malaysia: Court dismisses negligence suit against Govt


    No More Agonising Delays, Please Mr Justice

    2008-10-31 17:55

    If you visit Bukit Pelanduk today, once a booming township that boast itself being the most beautiful new village in the country, you will not find any trail of her glorious past.

    Today, it is a quiet, dying town, with only the elderly and the children remain behind. Those young and capable have fled the town to make their fortune in bigger towns nearby.

    The downfall of the town was almost inevitable after the Nipah virus outbreak ten years ago. The town that played the role of a regional hub to the pig farming industry in Southeast Asia ten years ago, has never been able to recover from the aftermath of the outbreak.

    To a lot of us, Nipah Virus could be just a term that once made the headlines many years ago, but to Bukit Pelanduk residents, this term constantly remind them of what they have lost. Their wealth, the lives of loved ones, their dreams, their all.

    For these victims of the Nipah Virus, where and who should they turn, to seek redress of their grievances? Some of them opted to go to the court, they claimed that the government has mishandled the outbreak and compensation given to them was insufficient.

    The case was filed in 2002, their battle for justice took six years until it was pronounced dead by the Federal Court yesterday.

    Actually, their fight for justice has never got a chance to get off the ground. The Federal Counsel representing the government has already applied to strike out the farmers' case summarily without going to trial. The court has not even summon a single witness to look into the merits of the farmers case. This is our judiciary system, various postponement, adjournments, it took them six years to tell our farmers that their case is on the wrong side of the law. The court is not their avenue for recourse.

    The Federal Court is their last resort, and this decision is final, unless there is a review by the Federal Court itself, which chances is rare that it might happen. The provisions provided for striking out of case before trial are to assist the court to speedily throw out frivolous and vexatious cases where at most of the time abuse the court process.

    Let's forget about the decision of the court, let's look at the wait that our poor farmers have to go through. The misery of waiting, being panic and nervous during the interval of each adjourned hearing dates, it is a form of torture that only those litigants within our jurisdiction could understand. Their lives are literally suspended with the pending court case. Losing their case is one thing. But the injustices felt is something that most cannot let go.

    The inefficiency of our court is definitely not something new, the lack of human resources to deal with the cases, the administration and management of the court itself (instances where judges go on his or her annual leave when the day is already fixed for a case, where cases have to be postponed as the court file has gone missing...etc) are the few main factors contributing to such sorry state of affair.

    Even before the pronouncement of the Federal Court decision yesterday 30 Oct), some farmers have already given up their hopes in relying the Court to reward them with the justice that they have pursued. The long wait has killed their confidence for our system. They have moved on with life, hoping to leave their grievances suffered during their Nipah Virus outbreak behind, and now they can only resign to their fate.

    The newly appointed Chief Justice Tan Sri Zaki Azmi has vouched his determination to bring change to the judiciary. He has sternly asked his people to buck up, failing which they would be shipped out from their offices. One of his targets is to clear the backlog of cases piling on in each court all over the country.

    Let's put aside the independence issue within our judiciary, let's focus on the efficiency of the court. Justice delay is justice denied, let's pray for the nation that Zaki could carry our whatever reform possible to build an efficient judiciary, and that many other litigants in future would not have to suffer the same fate as our poor pig farmers had. The pigs are dead. The farmers without their pigs are as good as dead. What does justice mean to them? By TAN LEE CHIN/ Sin Chew Daily)
    ( The opinions expressed by the writer do not necessarily reflect those of MySinchew )
    MySinchew 2008.10.31