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Is IWK entitled to sue premise owners in court?

Media Statement 
by Ngeh Koo Ham


(Petaling Jaya, Wednesday) : Lately Indah Water Konsortium Sdn Bhd (IWK) has sent out notices of demand threatening premis owners to sue them in Court of they fail to pay up the charges demanded by IWK. This threat was reported in the media on 16/7/2007 and the DAP Legal Bureau has been inundated with many telephone calls seeking clarification. 

I would like to inform the public that the issues to be decided in the IWK cases handled by the DAP Legal Bureau are still pending in court and have yet to be finally decided by the apex court of the land. 

Amongst the issues to be decided are as follows:- 

1.          Is IWK entitled to sue premise owners in court? 

The DAP Legal Bureau is of the view that the suit may only be brought by the Federal Government as the body providing the sewerage services and not by IWK which is only the sewerage services contractor. 

2.         Whether IWK needs to prove that it has provided sewerage services to the premises concern before service charges can be imposed 

The DAP legal bureau is of the view that IWK needs to prove that it has provided the sewerage services before the service charges can be imposed. 

The legal bureau has just received the grounds of judgment of the Court of Appeal in Indah Water Consortium Sdn Bhd v Yong Kon Fatt (Civil Appeal No. A-04-212-2004). The Court of Appeal only decides that the claim by IWK cannot be summarily dismissed and ordered a full trial to be conducted. It did not over turn the 2 Ipoh High Court decisions that are of the view that IWK needs to prove that sewerage services have been rendered before the service charges can be imposed. In fact in a obiter dictum (passing remark) in the grounds of judgment of Her Ladyship Zaleha Zahari in the abovesaid Court of Appeal decision she has opined that IWK has to prove that services were provided and that this issue can only be resolved through viva voce (oral) evidence at trial. 

This is a very pertinent issue especially when the Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Minister, Datuk Seri Azmi Khalid has disclosed in May this year that IWK is the main polluter of our rivers where 91% of the pollution of the rivers in the country is from inadequately treated sewage. 

3.         The question of the Privity of Contract 

Unlike the services provided by Tenaga Nasional Berhd, the Water Board of the various states or the companies supplying water to our premises where a contract of service is signed, there is no such contract of service signed between IWK and the premis owners. In the circumstances, there is no privity of contract between the premis owners and IWK. 

I hope IWK will withhold the filing of further suits against the premis owners until the above said questions are settled by the apex court of the land.                                                             


*Ngeh Koo Ham, DAP Legal Bureau Chairman

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