[2019] 2 MLRA 112
Court of Appeal, Putrajaya
Idrus Harun, Hasnah Mohammed Hashim, Yeoh Wee Siam JJCA
[Civil Appeal Nos: J-02(NCVC)(W)-219-02-2017, J-02(W)-220-02-2017 & J-02(W)-221-02-2017]
Idrus Harun, Hasnah Mohammed Hashim, Yeoh Wee Siam JJCA


Yeoh Wee Siam JCA:


[1] This judgment is in respect of the following three appeals heard before us on 28 February 2018, 9-12 July 2018, 13 August 2018, 15 August 2018 and 16 August 2018 arising from Johor Bahru High Court Civil Suit No: 22-2282009 ("Suit 228"):

(1) Appeal No J-02(W)-219-02/2017 filed by Tetuan Khana & Co ("4th defendant") ("Appeal 219");

(2) Appeal No J-02(W)-220-02/2017 filed by Ramlan Bin Adong & 12 others ("Appeal 220");

(3) Appeal No J-02(W)-221-02/2012 filed by Dinesh Kanavaji a/l Kanawagi ("Dinesh") ("Appeal 221").

[2] In this judgment, the parties are referred to as they were in the High Court. However, wherever the context requires, any of the defendants and/or Dinesh would be referred to as "the appellant" or "the appellants".

Background Facts

The Land Acquisition

[3] Sometime in the early 1990s, the Johor State Government acquired 53,000 hectares of land in the Linggui Valley, Kota Tinggi District, Johor for the purposes of construction of a dam pursuant to an agreement with the Government of Singapore ("the Land"). The acquisition of the Land affected mainly three Orang Asli villages, namely;

(a) Kampung Sayong Pinang;

(b) Kampung Semanggar; and

(c) Kampung Pasir Intan.

[4] As a consequence of the acquisition, the Orang Asli from the three villages were deprived of the use of their ancestral land and traditional sources of income. In or about 1994, the Orang Asli living in the said villages decided to sue the Johore State Government for compensation. For that purpose, 52 of the Orang Asli from the three villages appointed the 1st defendant in Suit 228, Kanawagi a/l Seperumaniam ("Kanawagi"), of Tetuan Khana & Co ie the 4th defendant in Suit 228 ("Khana & Co" or "the Firm"), to represent them.

[5] A person by the name of Hamzah Mohd Tahir ("Hamzah") led the negotiations on behalf of the Orang Asli with the Johor State Government. However, the negotiations failed. Hamzah then introduced the following three village headmen to the 1st defendant:

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