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Pig Farmers' Suit Against Govt. Thrown Out

by 5m Editor
30 October 2008, at 6:52am

MALAYSIA - The Government has succeeded in its bid to throw out a negligence suit amounting to RM136 million filed by 184 pig farmers and the next-of-kin of those who died in the 1998-1999 Nipah virus epidemic.

Chief Judge of Malaya Datuk Arifin Zakaria who sat with Federal Court justices Datuk Nik Hashim Nik Ab Rahman and Datuk Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin on Thursday, unanimously allowed with cost the government's appeal against the Court of Appeal decision in favour of the plaintiffs.

Reading the Federal Court judgement, Nik Hashim said the losses claimed by pig farmers were occasioned by the disease, be it of the Nipah virus, and the loss was not occasioned by the Government.

The pig farmers' claim was unsustainable and therefore must be struck out, he said.

He also said that in any tort against the Government, the officer of the Government who was responsible for the alleged tortious act must be made a party and his liablity be established before the Government could be made liable vicariously as principal.

He said it would be insufficient to merely identify the officer without joining the officer as a party because liability by evidence needs to be established.

It was upon a successful claim against the officer personally, Nik Hashim said, could a claim be laid against the Government.

"Therefore, the Court of Appeal order is set aside and the orders of the High Court and Senior Assistant Registrar of the High Court are restored and affirmed," he said.

The Star reports that the farmers and the others had sought various damages, including for the loss of pigs, damage to farm facilities and medical and funeral expenses amounting to RM136 million.

In the suit, they named the Federal Government and Negeri Sembilan, Perak and Selangor governments as defendants and accused them of being negligent in handling the virus outbreak in September 1998.

They claimed that their losses were caused by the defendants' negligence, breach of fiduciary duty and breach of statutory duty.

The High Court Senior Assistant Registrar struck out the suit on February 4th, 2004 and this was affirmed by the High Court.

On April 5, 2005, the Court of Appeal allowed the plaintiffs' appeal and ordered the case to be tried and disposed of speedily at the High Court.

5m Editor