Federal Court decision on HDA Tribunal Claims

When you have 2 or more claims more than RM50,000, can you file for Tribunal Home Buyer's Claim under HDA?

The decision of Federal Court 2023 has the below judgments:

Thanks to the write-up by Gan Partnership Ms Lee Sze Ching Ashley (9 May, 2023) and earlier on Ms Carissa How (25 April, 2023) - on Remeggious Krishnan v SKS Southern Sdn Bhd [2023] 3 MLRA 386.

Verbatim below:


The tribunal for homebuyers claims (homebuyer's tribunal) was established under the Housing Development (Control and Licensing) Act 1966 (HDA 1966).

Pursuant to sections 16L and 16M of the HDA 1966, a homebuyer may lodge a claim with the homebuyer's tribunal for any loss suffered or any matter concerning their interests provided that the claim amount does not exceed 50,000 Malaysian ringgits (ie, the monetary jurisdiction of the homebuyer's tribunal).

Section 16Q of the HDA 1966 provides that a homebuyer may not split their claims or bring more than one claim regarding the same matter to bring it within the monetary jurisdiction of the homebuyer's tribunal.

In view of these provisions, the question is whether a homebuyer can bring separate claims against a developer regarding the same subject property if the claims are in relation to different matters and each claim does not exceed 50,000 Malaysian ringgits.

In Remeggious Krishnan v SKS Southern Sdn Bhd,(1) the Federal Court had an opportunity to interpret sections 16M and 16Q of the HDA 1966. It was held that the HDA 1966, being a piece of social legislation, should be interpreted in a way that provides the maximum protection to homebuyers (for further details please see "Federal Court decides to keep split claims within jurisdiction of tribunal for homebuyers claims").


The respondent was the developer of a residential project. By way of a sale and purchase agreement (SPA), which was based on the prescribed form under the HDA 1966, the appellant purchased an apartment (the property) from the respondent.

Based on clause 25 of the SPA, vacant possession of the property would be delivered on or before 6 February 2020.

Clause 27 of the SPA provides for the manner of delivery of vacant possession, whereby the respondent would let the appellant into possession of the property when water and electricity supply were ready for connection.

By way of a notice dated 24 April 2018, the respondent informed the appellant that it was ready to deliver vacant possession of the property. However, at that time, the electricity supply was not ready for connection to the property. The respondent only applied for electricity on 19 June 2018 and the deposit was paid to Tenaga Nasional Berhad on 26 June 2018.

As such, the appellant filed a claim with the homebuyer's tribunal for a sum of 49,832 Malaysian ringgits for the delay in the connection of the electricity (claim one). In addition, the appellant filed another claim based on the respondent's failure to provide adequate ceiling height and protruding beams and pillars which amounted to 40,000 Malaysian ringgits (claim two).

On 16 January 2019, the homebuyer's tribunal heard claim one and awarded a sum of 16,452.05 Malaysian ringgits to the appellant for the delay of 63 days calculated from 24 April 2018 to 26 June 2018 (the award).

The respondent filed an application for judicial review in the High Court to quash the award on the grounds that the appellant was not:

  • allowed to file two separate claims, (ie, claims one and two) due to sections 16M and 16Q of the HDA 1966; and
  • entitled to damages for the non-connection of electricity to the property.


The High Court refused to quash the award. However, upon the appeal by the respondent, the High Court's decision was overturned by the Court of Appeal.

The appellant then appealed to the Federal Court in which the following issues were being canvassed whether:

  • filing two separate claims involving different matters regarding the same property was contrary to sections 16Q and 16M of the HDA 1966 (the jurisdiction issue); and
  • it was appropriate to award damages for the non-connection of electricity to the property (the damages issue).

Jurisdiction issue
Section 16Q of the HDA 1966 provides that "[c]laims may not be split, nor more than one claim brought, in respect of the same matter against the same party for the purpose of bringing it within the jurisdiction of the Tribunal".

The Federal Court held that the Court of Appeal was wrong in interpreting the words "same matter" in section 16Q to mean the "same property". If that was the intention of parliament, the drafters of the HDA 1966 would have used the term "property" or "housing accommodation".

Accordingly, the Federal Court held that the words "same matter" can only mean the same issue or type of claim, and not the same property. In other words, section 16Q does not prevent a homebuyer from filing split claims in respect of different issues or matters notwithstanding that they concern the same property.

In the present case, the Federal Court held that section 16Q was inoperative because the appellant's claims were for two different matters; claim one was for non-technical matter and claim two was for technical matter.

The Federal Court also considered section 16M of HDA 1966 as to whether the amounts of claims one and two combined exceeded the monetary jurisdiction of the homebuyer's tribunal of 50,000 Malaysian ringgits.

Section 16M provides the following:

(1) Subject to sections 16N and 16O, the Tribunal shall have jurisdiction to determine a claim lodged under section 16L where the total amount in respect of which an award of the Tribunal is sought does not exceed fifty thousand ringgit. (Emphasis added.)

It was held that the monetary jurisdiction of the homebuyer's tribunal only applied to "a claim" and not "all the claims". Given that claims one and two were two separate and distinct claims and the individual amount of each claim did not exceed 50,000 Malaysian ringgits, the appellant did not contravene section 16M.

Damages issue
The Federal Court disagreed with the Court of Appeal's interpretation that "ready for connection" in clause 27 of the SPA did not mean that the property must be installed with an electricity supply.

The Federal Court referred to clause 1(k) of the SPA which defined "ready for connection" as "electrical points fully functional and supply is available for tapping into the Property".

Upon reading clause 1(k) and clause 27 of the SPA together, the Federal Court held that the respondent was obliged to provide the actual supply of electricity to the property at the time of delivery of vacant possession to the appellant.

Since there was no electricity supply connected when the respondent gave the notice of vacant possession, the respondent was in breach of clause 27. As a result, the appellant suffered losses for being deprived of the opportunity to utilise and enjoy the property.

The Federal Court also held that the time frame for delivery of vacant possession was different from the manner of the delivery of vacant possession. The former would entitle the appellant to claim for liquidated damages for late delivery of possession under clause 25, whereas the latter would allow for a claim for compensatory damages under clause 27. Accordingly, even though it was within the time due for delivery of vacant possession when the electricity supply was connected to the property on 11 July 2018, the appellant was still entitled to damages for the delay in connection of the electricity.


The Federal Court's decision was in line with the objective of the HDA 1966 to protect the rights of purchasers to resort to an easier, cheaper and quicker avenue (ie, the homebuyer's tribunal), to claim for any loss suffered or any matter concerning their interests as a homebuyer.

For further information on this topic please contact Lee Sze Ching (Ashley) at Gan Partnership by telephone (+603 7931 7060) or email (szeching@ganlaw.my). The Gan Partnership website can be accessed at www.ganlaw.my.


(1) [2023] 1 LNS 362.

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