Write Off and Saved Our Clients RM74 million of Damages Awarded By the Courts
LGB Engineering v Saiful Rais and Ors
“Lawyers were notorious for finding cases in the most unlikely places, especially ones with huge potential damages awards.”
― Jodi Picoult, Handle with Care
74 Million Ringgit. That was the amount of damages for which we were ordered to pay to the plaintiffs for the loss of value of some shares in a company. The other shareholder of the said company was Kumpulan Perangsang Selangor…. We were also ordered to pay costs of RM30,000.
Distraught was not quite sufficient an adjective. Devastation was closer.
The thoughts of Master Houdini and Master David Copperfield flashed in our minds as I wish we should have been their disciples to make RM74 Million disappear!!!!
Since both the master magicians were not Malaysians we sought the assistance of Mr Alex Chang through the good office of Mr Harun Mustapha. The first reaction of Mr Chang after listening to our lengthy explanation was that the method adopted by the Honourable Court for the valuation of shares was not the most accurate. He felt that we should mount an appeal against the decision.
We were stunned when he told us this and very quietly thought, “…is this even possible?”
The High Court of Kuala Lumpur
Once the learned Judge heard the argument of both parties, an adjournment was ordered pending the decision of the hearing. In fact, further adjournments were made before the Judge gave the order. The period following the postponement was tense as we often found ourselves pondering what the outcome of the appeal would be. Even though there were only 5 very short adjournments due to some unforseen circumstances, it felt like decades.
To our relief, the learned High Court Judge agreed with us and held that the finding of the RM74 million as damages could not be supported in law, it must be set aside she also held that the party claiming for damages has the burden of proving the fact and the quantum of damages.
It is not sufficient for the party to merely plead damages. He must also prove the actual losses he had suffered before the court can award damages.
The Court of Appeal
It was not beyond our contemplation that an appeal would be on the cards. Counsel raised and reiterated their points, the judges took note and listened intently. The atmosphere was so palpable that we perspired even though the air conditioner set to cool us down to 16 C. Most of the matters heard that day was disposed almost immediately after hearing submissions from counsel.
As fate would have had it, we had to wait for the decision as the matter stood down for a short while prior to pronouncing the decision. That 15 minutes, felt as if time had stood still.
That 15-minute wait was very well worth it.
The Apex/ Federal Court
However, this taste of victory was short-lived as the plaintiff filed an application for leave to appeal to the Federal Court. Our Apex Court… At the Apex Court, learned Counsel for the Plaintiffs could not convince the Honourable Court that there was any merits in the appeal nor were there any novel issues their leave application was dismissed by the Federal Court.
One of the learned Federal Court judges quipped softly to the learned Plaintiffs’ Counsel “…and your clients the Plaintiffs lost RM74 million along the way?”
Indeed they have.
Mr Chang, Mr Harun and their team spent months to diligently prepare their submission, during the hearing they displayed wit and eloquence. We were grateful for the assistance they had provided in these challenging times.
No words could describe my family’s appreciation towards your help.
Thank you very much Sirs.
This decision was reported in the Malayan Law Journal:  9 MLJ 349. The original grounds of judgment may be found here.
This decision was affirmed by the Court of Appeal vide W-03(IM)-77-07/2014 on November 11, 2014.
On June 18, 2015 the Honourable Federal Court dismissed the application for leave to appeal by the Plaintiffs.