Saturday, February 22

Felda ordered to pay RM11 million in damages to 354 settlers

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PUTRAJAYA: The Federal Land Development Authority (Felda) will have to pay RM11 million in damages to 354 settlers over payments for palm oil fruits after the agency’s bid to bring up the matter for appeal was refused by the Federal Court here yesterday.Chief Justice Tun Zaki Azmi and Federal Court judges Datuk Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin and Datuk Gopal Sri Ram unanimously disallowed Felda’s application for leave to appeal against the Kota Baharu High Court’s decision awarding the damages to the settlers.

Zaki said there was no question of law that required the apex court to determine.

The quorum also ordered Felda to pay RM30,000 costs.

The High Court had ordered the agency to pay RM7.8 million plus interest to the settlers after its counsel failed to turn up for the hearing of the suit.

The amount has since increased to RM11 million with accumulated interest, with each settler expected to be paid RM30,000 in damages.

The settlers brought the suit against Felda in 2002 seeking between RM20,000 and RM30,000 each in general damages as they alleged that the agency had understated the quality of their oil palm fruits from 1996 to 2002 which caused them to suffer losses.

They named Felda, Felda Kemahang 3 manager Ibrahim Ismail (Ibrahim has since died) and Felda Palm Industries Sdn Bhd as defendants.

In their writ, the settlers claimed that they discovered fraud and conspiracy in the transactions of the palm oil fruits in September 2001. About 200 settlers packed the Palace of Justice here yesterday.

The settlers were represented by a team of lawyers led by Yusfarizal Yussoff while Felda was represented by Datuk Cecil Abraham and Sunil Abraham. — Bernama