PUTRAJAYA: The Court of Appeal has allowed an appeal by a property developer in liquidation to have his injunction application reheard as the presiding High Court judge had switched off his video during an online proceeding last year.
A three-member bench, chaired by Justice Vazeer Alam Mydin Meera, said the Zoom hearing without the judicial commissioner’s video being turned on had impaired the propriety of the case.
“This amounts to a denial of a fair hearing,” said Vazeer in an oral ruling delivered last week.
Sitting with him were Justices Mariana Yahya and Zaini Mazlan.
The bench also agreed with Anand Raj, who appeared for the Malaysian Bar as amicus curiae, that a virtual hearing must replicate a physical hearing as much as possible.
“Thus, it is imperative that the video cameras of all parties with a speaking role in the proceeding, which includes the judge, must be switched on and all such parties must be audible and visible to others,” Vazeer added.
The bench then set aside the judicial commissioner’s Dec 14 dismissal of the injunction application and remitted the matter for hearing before a different judge.
The bench also made an interim order, lasting another two months, restraining the completion of the auction sale of two parcels of commercial land in Kuala Selangor.
Goldpage Assets Sdn Bhd, as the beneficial owner of the property, filed the injunction against Bank Islam Malaysia Bhd and Plusbury Development Sdn Bhd last October.
The Court of Appeal heard that the High Court proceeding began with the video cameras of all parties switched on.
However, a few minutes later, the judicial commissioner’s video was turned off, resulting in the parties being able to hear but not see him.
Those who appeared before the judicial commissioner brought the matter to his attention but were told to proceed.
The bank, represented by Aedyla Bokari, is the assignee in the main suit while Plusbury, represented by S Ravenesan and S Davenesan, is the registered owner of the land.
Alvin Tang appeared for Goldpage.
Following the outbreak of Covid-19 in early 2020, most civil proceedings have been conducted online.