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Kota Kinabalu
Jumaat, April 19, 2024

Housebuyers win appealafter a 16-year wait for compensation

Flashback to January 28, 2011…Liew (4th right) with the house buyers after winning the landmark RM4.6 million suit. Chin is 3rd left and third from right is Ir Ho. 

KOTA KINABALU: The Court of Appeal has ruled in favour of Lim Chon Jet and 45 other house buyers of Taman Bukit Saujana (Springfield Homes), Jalan Bantayan here, against the housing developer company’s guarantors Wee Ai Hua and Wee Kok Hui.

The judgement sum awarded was RM3,253,644.67 plus interests of 5pc.

The Court of Appeal, comprising Dato’ Has Zanah Binti Mehat, Dato’ Lee Heng Cheong and Dato’ Che Mohd Ruzima, delivered its ruling via Zoom on Friday (September 23, 2022).

It unanimously set aside the High Court’s decision, and allowed the house buyers’ appeal in finding the guarantors liable jointly and severally as guarantors.

On August 21, 2020, KK High Court Judge Datuk Mairin Bin Idang @ Martin dismissed the house buyers’ claim against the guarantors.

The house buyers were represented by Datuk Alex Decena and Jordan Kong. Colin Lau and Kelvin Wong represented the guarantors.

In a house buyers’ statement on Sunday, spokesperson Chin Yap On, who heaved a sigh of relief, said : “Finally, our nightmare is over after a 16-year mental anguish for the execution of the judgement sum.

“We had filed two suits – the first in 2006 against the developer’s company, Yusen Jaya Sdn Bhd for negligence and breach of contract in the construction of our homes. We were awarded about RM4.6 million in liquidated and ascertained damages by the High Court on January 28, 2011.

“However, because the developer had no assets for the judgement sum to be executed, we had no choice but to commence new legal action in 2015 to satisfy the judgement sum. 

“But in the second suit, we lost our case when the High Court dismissed our claim against the guarantors in 2020. We then appealed to the Court of Appeal which unanimously allowed our appeal against the High Court’s decision, last Friday.

“We, the appellants/house buyers, would like to express our appreciation and thank the then Minister of Local Government and Housing, Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor (now Sabah Chief Minister), our solicitor Christina Liew of CJ Liew & Co (now Datuk and an elected representative), and her team of counsels as well as consultant Ar. Ho Jia  Lit (now Datuk) and his team of consultants for the help, work and services they had given all these years.” 

According to Chin, the plaintiffs received some payments as part of the judgement sum through Liew in 2017.

In retrospect, in 2006, the 46 house buyers sued Yusen Jaya Sdn Bhd for liquidated and ascertained damages, and damages for breach of contract for late delivery and defects in the houses.

After a full trial before KK High Court Judge Datuk David Wong Dak Wah (as he then was, now Tan Sri), involving Ir Ho and his team, who all testified, the judge entered judgment to the house buyers for liquidated and ascertained damages in 2011. The developer was ordered to pay the 46 house buyers about RM4.6 million in compensation.

The Judge had found that the houses were poorly built with defects which could not be remedied unless they were completely demolished and rebuilt from ground zero.

As Yusen Jaya Sdn Bhd was not in a position to satisfy the awarded judgement sum, the house buyers sought the assistance of Liew to approach the Controller of Housing for help.

The solicitor and some of the house buyers reportedly met Hajiji about the difficulties faced by the house buyers regarding their claim for damages.

Hajiji directed his Ministry for the house buyers to be compensated under a guarantee issued by a finance company to the Controller of Housing.

Subsequently, Liew led the house buyers to meet the Local Government and Housing Ministry’s Housing Engineer Gabriel Chong on January 28, 2013 as the Housing Controller was not available.

Having obtained a legal assignment from the Controller to sue the directors of Yusen Jaya Sdn Bhd as guarantors, the house buyers then sued Wee Ai Hua and Wee Kok Hui jointly and severally for the judgement sum under the said guarantee (signed by the directors/guarantors of the company).

However, the guarantors denied liability and the case went for a full trial in the High Court in 2020, which ruled in favour of the guarantors and dismissed the house buyers’ claim (against the guarantors).

Subsequently, the house buyers appealed to the Court of Appeal which allowed their appeal last Friday.

Photos : 1. Flashback to January 28, 2011…Liew (4th right) with the house buyers after winning the landmark RM4.6 million suit. Chin is 3rd left and third from right is Ar. Ho.