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No more hearings until after appeal

NST-PROP 20/09/2003 By Nicholas Mun

The Tribunal for Homebuyer Claims has ground to a halt with the recent High Court ruling that it has no retrospective jurisdiction to hear cases stemming from Sale and Purchase Agreements (SPAs) signed before Dec 1, 2002.

"From what we heard, the Tribunal has posted a notice on its bulletin board that all cases have been postponed indefinitely," said National House Buyers Association secretary-general Chang Kim Loong.

"It would appear that the Tribunal chairman intends to maintain the status quo until the question on the Tribunal's jurisdiction is conclusively resolved. He doesn't want to do anything until the appeal is heard."

The appeal against the High Court decision filed two weeks ago by the Attorney-General's Chambers is expected to be heard before the year is out if the Court of Appeal accedes to the request made for an early hearing date.

As of July 3 this year, a total of 2,209 cases have been filed with the Tribunal. Of these, 438 have been disposed off with more than RM2.3 million in compensation being awarded to buyers.

This was revealed during the hearing of the applications of Puncakdana Sdn Bhd and Westcourt Corp Sdn Bhd in the High Court to prohibit the Tribunal from hearing claims stemming from SPAs signed before Dec 1 last year and to quash the awards already made.

Chang believes that "between 95 per cent to 98 per cent of the cases lodged with the Tribunal are for claims based on pre-Dec 1 SPAs".

"This is the reason why the Tribunal has come to a standstill with the chairman's decision to postpone all claims indefinitely."

Chang advised buyers who have been compensated based on the awards that have been made by the Tribunal to "hang on to it, at least until after the appeal is heard".

"The status quo should be maintained until the next round in court. This way, we avoid the compensation being paid back and forth between the parties."

Chang also said that a team of lawyers has come forward to represent the buyers in the appeal against Puncakdana on a pro bono basis.


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