Lawyer Haniff Khatri fined RM30k for contempt

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Senior lawyer Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla was fined RM30,000 in default one month’s jail by the Federal Court for contempt of court for being disrespectful of the Federal Court in a property dispute case.

A three-member bench led by Federal Court judge Abdul Rahman Sebli also fined three other individuals who are partners of a licensed moneylender firm RM50,000 in default one month’s jail each for a similar offence.

Justice Abdul Rahman, however, allowed the trio and Haniff Khatri’s requests to settle the fine by Friday (January 8).

The panel, which included Justices Zabariah Mohd Yusof and Hasnah Mohammed Hashim, also ordered the three individuals to pay RM50,000 costs and Haniff Khatri to pay RM10,000 costs.

In sentencing the four, Justice Rahman said contempt of court must not be taken lightly.

He said the court imposed the RM50,000 fine on Ding Toh Biew, Ding Toh Gien and Ding Toh Lei as they did not express their regret or show remorse to the court after they were found guilty for contempt.

He said instead, they were persistent that they acted on the advice of Haniff Khatri, who was their former solicitor.

TMI

He said Haniff Khatri had apologised to the court unequivocally and unconditionally, adding that it was obvious that he was genuinely remorseful.

Justice Rahman, however, said the court also took into account that Haniff Khatri only decided to apologise to the court after being found guilty.

He said the contempt committed by Haniff Khatri, who is an officer of the court and a senior member of the Bar, was against the apex court.

Earlier, Justice Hasnah, who delivered the court’s decision on the contempt, said that the court was satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the three partners of Golden Star and Haniff Khatri were guilty of contempt of court.

“We are, therefore, of the view that such behaviour of the respondents and Haniff Khatri was contumacious and disrespectful.”

The high court in 2012 allowed the suit filed by Lim Peek Hoe and his son Ling Boon Huat and held that the sale and purchase agreements of properties in Ipoh, Perak and the tenancy agreements and transfers of those properties were null and void.

The Court of Appeal, however, reversed the high court’s decision, ruling in favour of Golden Star and the three individuals.

The Federal Court on June 20, 2017, allowed Peek Hoe and Boon Huat’s appeal and reinstated the high court’s decision and ordered Golden Star and the three partners to return the properties within 60 days.

However, they filed the first review through their previous lawyer, which was subsequently withdrawn and was struck out by the Federal Court.

Haniff Khatri was then appointed to represent the trio, and he filed the second review and subsequently a third review of the Federal Court’s decision. Both reviews were dismissed by the court in May 2019.

The Federal Court, on the same day, also granted leave to Peek Hoe and Boon Huat to commence committal proceedings against the trio and Haniff Khatri.

Lawyer Edmund Lim represented Peek Hoe and Boon Huat, while lawyer LK Chieng appeared for the three partners. Lawyer M Reza Hassan represented Haniff Khatri.