PETALING JAYA: Tycoon Halim Saad has filed an application asking the High Court to refer two legal questions for determination by the Federal Court in relation to a suit brought against the federal government.
Halim filed the suit in July, seeking compensation for a compulsory acquisition by the government of his interests in Renong Bhd and the loss of his right to effect a general offer on UEM Malaysia Bhd.
Also named as defendants in the suit are former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad and ex-second finance minister Nor Mohamed Yakcop.
The cause papers for the present application, filed on Monday, were served on the defendants today.
In the application, Halim said the Federal Court must rule whether a claim brought against the government for breach of his fundamental liberties is subject to time bars set in the Limitation Act 1963 or the Public Authorities and Protection Act 1948.
He also wants the apex court to determine whether the doctrine of res judicata applies to bar him from bringing the claim by reason of a previous action premised on the same facts disposed by the High Court, despite the claim not being in respect of any breach of his fundamental liberties.
In a supporting affidavit, Halim acknowledged that his previous suit, based on contract or fraud, was time barred.
“The only issue that was definitively determined against me in the (prior suit) was that (my) claim based on contract or fraud was time barred.
Those findings only went so far as foreclosing a further claim being made on a contractual basis or as regards any alleged fraud on the part of the government or TSNY (Nor Mohamed),” Halim said in the filing sighted by FMT.
However, Halim said his present claim is premised on the fact that his valuable property rights in Renong were compulsorily acquired.
“Independent of any contractual promise, I am guaranteed compensation by Article 13(2), Federal Constitution,” he said.
Halim said the government, Mahathir and Nor Mohamed did not deny the facts set out in his statement of claim leading to the acquisition.
“The defendants have admitted to a substantial part of the (statement of claim),” his affidavit said.
“The primary defences raised by the defendants are limitation and res judicata. The defendants (have) filed (their) striking out application on this basis.
“In summary, they contend that I ought to have raised the claim on constitutional breaches in the prior suit and that my claims here are in any event caught by the limitation period under the Limitation Act or the Public Authorities and Protection Act,” he said.
Halim, however, contends that there is no limitation period for a claim founded on a breach of constitutional rights.
He also said the limitation period provided for under the Public Authorities and Protection Act was also not applicable as the obligation to pay “adequate compensation” rests with the government and not any of its agencies.
Halim said a decision of the Federal Court on the questions raised is of public importance and would “serve as a useful guidance” given that claims for breaches of fundamental liberties are “increasingly prevalent”.
He said it would also allow the case to be “resolved speedily” given that he and two of the defendants were already “at an advanced age”.
Mahathir is 98 years old, while Nor Mohamed is 76. Halim is aged 70.
Halim’s previous suit was struck out by the High Court 10 years ago. The Court of Appeal dismissed his appeal in 2014 and the Federal Court refused to grant him leave to appeal the following year.