KUALA LUMPUR: Two people, including a Singaporean, who bought condominium units in Puchong, Selangor, were found liable by the High Court for defaming a housing developer in a WhatsApp chat group.
Justice Nazlan Ghazali said Permodalan Masteron Sdn Bhd had proved its case against Stanley Saw, a Singaporean, and Fiona Lim on a balance of probabilities.
“The defendants have failed to establish any of the defences against the claim, and I accordingly award special and general damages,” Nazlan said in a 37-page written judgment released last week.
He ordered Saw to pay RM45,000 in damages, and Lim RM25,000 to Masteron, represented by lawyers Ashok Kandiah and Celinne Teh.
Nazlan, now a Court of Appeal judge, said the statements made by the duo were unrelated to a class action brought against the developer for breach of contract.
“I have also taken into account the plain fact that the plaintiff is a corporate entity and not a natural person,” he said.
The plaintiff, therefore, could not complain that these defamatory statements had caused it natural grief and distress or hurt to feelings, he said.
Saw and Lim, represented by Kelly Khoo, have filed an appeal in the Court of Appeal.
Masteron had built a condominium project known as Aurora Residence @ Lake Side City in Puchong. The two defendants were purchasers and registered proprietors of units in the development.
In its statement of claim, Masteron said Saw set up a WhatsApp group which was first known as “Aurora Residence 2.0” and later “Aurora Class Action” to discuss an impending suit.
The conversations among participants in the group included dissatisfaction with the developer’s alleged non-adherence to its contractual responsibilities under sale and purchase agreements entered with the purchasers.
In June 2018, 208 purchasers filed a class action suit in the Shah Alam High Court against the developer for breach of contract.
On March 9, 2020, a consent judgment was entered between the developer and the purchasers to resolve the dispute.
Nazlan found that Saw had posted six libellous statements in the group, while Lim had posted two, all of which were unconnected to the suit.
The statements included allegations of theft and corrupt practices made against Masteron.