Federal Court grants Home Ministry leave for review of damages to news portal

KUALA LUMPUR: The Federal Court has granted leave to the Government to raise questions of law over the damages awarded to The Edge Communications Sdn Bhd after the Home Ministry suspended two of its publications in 2015.

Federal Court judge Justice Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin, who chaired a three-man panel, allowed the Ministry's application to pose three questions after The Edge's counsel Raja Eileen Soraya Raja Aman did not raise an objection.

Other judges on the panel were Justices Zaharah Ibrahim and Balia Yusof Wahi.

When contacted, Senior Federal Counsel Alice Loke Yee Ching who acted for the Ministry and its secretary-general, said she raised four questions but withdrew the first as it was captured in the third and fourth questions.

The first question was whether an order for assessment of damages claimed under Order 53 Rule 5 of the Rules of Court 2012 is subject to a threshold test.

The second question was whether an order for assessment of damages for the tort of misfeasance in public office could be made upon the granting of an order of certiorari to quash the decision of the public officer.

Finally, the third question was whether an order for assessment of damages for breach of a constitutional right could be made upon the granting of an order of certiorari.

On Aug 30, last year, a three-man Court of Appeal panel unanimously dismissed the Ministry and secretary-general's appeal on ground that the trial judge's decision in ordering the publisher to claim for damages over the suspension of The Edge Weekly and The Edge Financial Daily, was correct.

Justice Mohd Zawawi Salleh held that the publisher was entitled to claim for the damages under Order 53 Rule 5 of Rules of Court 2012.

The panel, also comprising Court of Appeal judges Justice Abdul Rahman Sebli and Justice Prasad Sandosham Abraham, did not make any order as to costs, after hearing submissions by both parties.

In affirming the High Court's decision, Justice Mohd Zawawi recorded that the panel had settled that both parties were of the view that the issue on the validity of the suspension order was now academic and the only issue before them was over damages.

The Home Minister issued the suspension order for the two publications for three months from July 27, 2015.

High Court judge Justice Asmabi Mohamed (now a Court of Appeal judge) had on Sept 21, 2015 quashed the suspension order against The Edge Financial Daily and The Edge Weekly, and awarded RM15,000 in costs to be paid to the publisher.