Law updates - Land law (Malaysian law unless otherwise stated)

* Abbreviations 
HC = high court 
COA = court of appeal 
FC = federal court
Laksamana Realty Sdn Bhd v Vong Ban Hin [HC]

  The defendant's claim to a right to title or interest must be to a registrable title or interest in relation to the plaintiff as the registered proprietor and not one who is not a registered proprietor. Upon examination of the grounds expressed by the defendant in the Form 19B read with his statutory declaration, it was clear that the defendant's alleged right to the title or interest in the land, if any, was not directed at the plaintiff. Instead it was directed wholly and exclusively against Tan Guan Soon on behalf of one Tan Huan and one Tan Eng Chye who had allegedly jointly developed the said land pursuant to an agreement dated May 5, 1964. The ground expressed by the defendant in the Form 19B, was therefore clearly insufficient in law to support a caveat. Hence cadit quaestio.  

Robert Lee @ Robert Seet and Jeffrey Lee Cheng Tiam v Wong Ah Yah (p) & Anor [COA] 

The trial judge was entitled to resort to any appropriate principle of law to do justice even if such principle had not been considered in submission. On the facts, the present case concerned an outright sale of land which had been recognized by the estate of the seller for 47 years as no longer belonging to it and which the buyer and his children have since, invested money on and had been using as their own land. De facto, the land belongs to the estate of Tan Tai Tip and no longer to the estate of Li Keng Liat. It is fair and just in the circumstances that the compensation for the acquisition, be paid to the estate of Tan Tai Tip. To do otherwise, would be to deprive the estate of Tan Tai Tip of the continued use and enjoyment of the said land which had been paid for, and to compensate and unjustly enrich the estate of Li Keng Liat which had received the price of the land of which it had practically divested itself of any claim. It was therefore not necessary in the circumstances for the plaintiff to have claimed entitlement to the compensation technically on the basis of exclusive possession and to have sought a declaration to that effect. The reason for Li Keng Liat's estate having remained as the registered owner was due to the fact that even if the parties had intended to effect a formal transfer, the land could not have been registered in Tan Tai Tip's name unless he had a qualifying certificate, which presumably he did not have nor attempt to obtain. The policy of the Ordinance is intended for the benefit of the Malacca Malays only and for the estate of Li Keng Liat. Had Li Keng Liat intended for the said land to be sold, then such sale should have been to a Malacca Malay. The sale of the said land to Tan Tai Tip was wrong, and as a result of which some Malacca Malay had been deprived of the opportunity of owning the land. However as the land had been acquired by the State, the need to uphold the policy does not extend to the compensation monies that represent the value of the land. The policy governing Malacca customary lands is therefore irrelevant to the dispute between the two estates over the compensation.

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