Government to appeal decision on housing tribunal
The Star By Clarence Chua
PETALING JAYA: The Government will appeal against a High Court decision on Thursday that declared that the housing tribunal does not have the jurisdiction to adjudicate disputes over property bought before Dec 1.
Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting said Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail would personally conduct the appeal.
“The amendments to the Housing Developers Act and the establishment of the tribunal were made to serve the best interest of homebuyers in accordance with the law.
“The Government will no doubt explore every avenue to ensure that the actual purpose for the setting up of the tribunal will be served,” he said in a statement.
On Thursday, Justice Datuk Md Raus Sharif allowed the application of Puncakdana Sdn Bhd and Westcourt Corp Sdn Bhd to seek a judicial review against the awards given by the tribunal in favour of six house buyers who made claimed damages for late delivery of their houses and failure to complete the common facilities.
The application, allowed with no order as to costs, nullified the awards given by the tribunal in favour of the house buyers.
In his 15-page judgment, Justice Md Raus said he found that there was no clear indication in the amended Housing Development Act for a retrospective application of Part VI, relating to the establishment of the tribunal.
Lawyers for the developers, Lee Hishamuddin and Sri Ram & Co, had argued that Part VI of the amended Act did not expressly provide for retrospective effect, hence the tribunal could not hear and determine disputes arising from sale and purchase agreements signed before Dec 1.
The tribunal was established via amendments made to the Housing Development (Control and Licensing) Act 1966 vide the Housing Developers (Control and Licensing) (Amendment) Act 2002. The amended Act was given Royal Assent on Jan 23, 2002 and came into force on Dec 1, 2002.
National House Buyers Association (HBA) has described the latest development as a retrogressive step for house buyers.
HBA secretary-general Chang Kim Loong pointed out that thousands of aggrieved house buyers could not afford the normal court process.
“The tribunal is only accessible to house buyers who signed the sale and purchase agreement on or after Dec 1 then we can guess it will not see any action until a later date as the majority of complaints will only surface after the schedule date of completion, that is 24 or 36 months later."