Civil suit by FELDA settlers reinstated
PUTRAJAYA, May 8 — A group of settlers from FELDA Kemahang 3 in Kelantan have succeeded in their appeal to reinstate their civil suit against their former lawyers and a legal firm over a payment of RM11.23 million which they won in a settlement against FELDA, Bernama Online reported today.
A three-member panel at the Appeals Court presided by Justices Datuk K.N. Segara, Datuk Azhar Ma’ah and Datuk Abdul Aziz Abdul Rahim unanimously allowed the 273 settlers’ appeal to set aside a Kota Bahru High Court decision in allowing the respondents’ application to strike out their suit.
The matter has now been remitted back to the Kota Bahru High Court for trial.
The news portal said that Justice Segara ordered lawyers Wan Rohimi Wan Daud and Asmadi Abu Bakar to file their statement of defence within two weeks from today.
They were also ordered to pay RM10,000 in legal costs to the settlers.
The appellants are among the 354 settlers who won their civil suit against FELDA when the Federal Court in 2010 rejected the agency’s bid to review a High Court decision ordering that it pay RM7.8 million in damages to the settlers.
The amount increased to RM11.23 million with accumulated interest.
The civil suit was over payment related to oil palm fruit which the settlers claimed was subject to grading manipulation between 1996 and 2002 which caused them to suffer losses.
A 273-strong group then filed a civil suit against Wan Rohimi and Asmadi, who are partners in the legal firm Messrs Wan Rohimi & Asmadi, seeking an order that the firm disclose the sum of their legal fees, court costs and the actual amount to be paid to them.
The settlers claimed they were due RM30,000 each from the award. They, however, received a payment of RM19,000 each, or a total of RM6.72 million.
The Kota Bahru High Court struck out the settlers’ writ of summons in October last year.
Their counsel Mohd Yaacob Bakanali earlier told the court that his clients wanted the respondents to disclose details of the account into which the judgment sum was paid as they said there was a balance of RM4.5 million of the judgment sum and also interest of RM85,589.
He said the settlers had made several attempts to meet the respondents to resolve the issue but the respondents had failed to respond to their request.
Counsel Yusfarizal Yusof, representing the respondents, submitted that the High Court was right to strike out the settlers’ civil suit after finding that it was unsustainable as they had, in their statement of claim, sought damages when in fact, they should have sued the respondents for the outstanding amount.
Wan Rohimi and Asmadi have filed a RM25 million civil suit against some of the settlers over conspiracy and defamatory claims. The suit is pending at the Kota Bahru High Court.