[2024] 1 MLRA 344
Court of Appeal, Putrajaya
Lee Swee Seng, Mariana Yahya, Wong Kian Kheong JJCA
[Civil Appeal Nos: J-01(IM)(NCVC)-113-03-2022, J-01(IM)(NCVC)-114-03-2022 & J-01(IM)(NCVC)-115-03-2022]
Lee Swee Seng, Mariana Yahya, Wong Kian Kheong JJCA


Wong Kian Kheong JCA:

A. Introduction

[1] The above three appeals (3 Appeals) raise a novel question of whether the Federal Government (4th Defendant) may be estopped by statements made by, among others, Johore State Health Director (2nd Defendant) from relying on the three-year limitation period (Three-Year Limitation Period) provided in s 2(a) of the Public Authorities Protection Act 1948 (PAPA).

B. Background

[2] We shall refer to parties as they were in the High Court (HC).

[3] A fire broke out on 25 October 2016 (Fire) in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of Sultanah Aminah Hospital, Johore Bahru (Hospital).

[4] Six patients in the Hospital's ICU perished in the Fire (6 Deceased Persons).

[5] The plaintiffs (Plaintiffs) in the above three suits (3 Suits) are the parents and dependents of three out of the 6 Deceased Persons.

[6] The 1st defendant is the Hospital's Director while the 3rd defendant is the Director-General of the Ministry of Health (MOH). This judgment shall refer to all the defendants collectively in these 3 Appeals as the "Defendants".

[7] After the Fire, MOH formed a seven-member "Independent Inquiry Committee" (IIC) to inquire into the cause of the Fire and to make the necessary recommendations to the 4th Defendant. The IIC was headed by a retired Judge of Court of Appeal (JCA), Dato' Seri Mohd Hishamudin Bin Mohd Yunus.

[8] In June 2018, IIC handed its report (IIC's Report) to MOH. Until the date of this written judgment, IIC's Report has not been released to the public.

C. Legal Proceedings

C(1). 3 Suits

[9] The Plaintiffs filed the 3 Suits in the HC on 2 September 2020.

[10] The Defendants filed three applications to strike out the 3 Suits on the ground that the 3 Suits had been instituted after the expiry of the Three Year Limitation Period on 25 October 2019 (Defendants' 3 Striking Out Applications).

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