Jumaat, 29 Mac 2013

Unsuitable mega-suits

PAPAGOMO Anwar Ibrahim
KUALA LUMPUR: Independent MP for Wangsa Maju Wee Choo Keong says lawyers filing defamation suits should not be specifying any amount in their claims, and that the Bar Council should speak up on the matter. 

In a March 27 posting in his blog, Wee highlighted the “emerging trend for litigants to file mega suits for defamation where general damages have been quantified by their lawyer up to the tune of RM100 million or more”. 

A lawyer by training himself, Wee questioned not only whether such high claims for damages were ethical but whether they were even permitted by the Rules of Court 2012. 

On the latter, Wee said, the answer is clear.

wee choo keongWee : Only judges overseeing defamation cases can decide on any amount of money to be awarded.
“Surely any lawyer worth his salt knew or ought to have known that…the new Order 18 Rule 12 (1A) of the new Rules of Court 2012, which came into effect on 1-8-2012 (a good six months ago), clearly states that ‘No party shall quantify any claim or counter claim for general damages’,” he wrote. 

“This said Order and Rule was incorporated into the new Rules of Court 2012 because of those mega suits that were filed previously in Court and the public outcry among lawyers that old Rules of the High Court 1980 had to be overhauled to meet new challenges and to prevent such abused,” he said. 

Wee said that in spite of the change, there are lawyers who persist in stating specific amounts when filing defamation suits on behalf of clients, which he called “a curious habit for a professional”. 

“Surely the quantification of RM100 million in the defamation suit was not done due to ignorance. Anyway ignorance of the law is not a defence in law,” he said, adding that he leaves it to his readers to draw their own conclusions. 

Only judges overseeing defamation cases can decide on any amount of money to be awarded, Wee said, and lawyers should respect the rules. 

“Lawyers should be reminded not to use the courts to politicise and/or as a mean to divert public attention of matters which were already in the public domain,” he said. 

Wee called on the Bar Council to issue a directive to lawyers to adhere to Order 18 Rule 12 (1A) when filing lawsuits. 

“This is to safeguard the good image of the Bar, otherwise we will see more of the mega suits will be filed in the coming days or weeks as the 13th GE is approaching,” he said. 

Malaysia has seen a number of ‘mega-suits’ such as described by Wee in recent years, including an RM5 million defamation suit against blogger Kickdefella by Husam Musa of Pas in September 2011; RM10 million suits against bloggers Parpukari and Papagomo by businessman Abdul Razak Mohd Noor in January 2012; an RM100 million suit against Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin by opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim; and, more recently, another RM100 million suit filed by Anwar against Papagomo.

posting by:themole


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