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Court rules for housebuyers
The Sun 15/06/2004

PUTRAJAYA: More than 6,000 house buyers who have ruled cases against developers with the Housing Tribunal can sigh with relief. The Federal Court ruled yesterday that the tribunal can hear and determine cases involving sale and purchase agreements signed before Dec I, 2002.

The three-man bench -headed by Chief Justice Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim unanimously upheld the Court of Appeal ruling.

Ahmad Fairuz said Section 16AD of the Housing Development (Control and Licensing) Act 1966, (which states that non-compliance of the tribunal's award a criminal offence), is a valid law and does not violate Article of the Federal Constitution.

The court had answered yes to the question posed by housing developer West court Corporation Sdn Bhd which wanted to know if the tribunal can hear cases where the S&Ps were signed before Dec 1, 2002.

"Our view is that Section 16AD has no relevance to the tribunal jurisdiction issue," Ahmad Fairuz said.

In a landmark decision on Sept 4 last year, the High Court allowed the application by developers West court and Puncakdana Sdn Bhd to review the tribunal's awards in favor of six buyers.

It ruled that the tribunal could not hear cases where the S&Ps were signed before the tribunal was set up.

However, on Dec 19 last year the Court of Appeal overturned that decision and allowed the appeal by the tribunal and 33-housebuyers. The Court of Appeal had held that the tribunal did not have retrospective effect.

Met outside the courtroom yesterday tribunal secretary Wan Husin Wan Hassan said the Federal Court decision has removed all doubts on the question of jurisdiction.

He said that the tribunal can now proceed to hear more than 6,000 such cases.

National House buyers Association secretary-general Chang Kim Loong said the decision is a progressive and promising step towards the successful implementation of the housing tribunal.

"This could not have been more timely as the house buyers' sentiment is on the' mend towards adequate protection for them," he said.

Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting said the decision once and for all settles the issue on the tribunal's jurisdiction.

"The decision pronounced by the Federal Court has in itself created history for the house buyers.

"It is my ministry's intention to provide ample protection to house buyers' rights," he said in a statement.

Ong said the ministry will prosecute developers who defy the awards made by the tribunal.


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