PKR vice-president Rafizi Ramli has won his appeal to set aside a High Court order that he pays RM200,000 in damages to National Feedlot Corporation Sdn Bhd (NFCorp) executive chairperson Dr Mohamad Salleh Ismail and his company for defamation.
The Court of Appeal three-member bench comprising Hamid Sultan Abu Backer, Hanipah Farikullah and Kamaludin Md Said, allowed Rafizi's appeal.
"We are unanimous that the appeal has merits. The appeal is allowed with costs," said Justice Hamid Sultan.
He ordered Mohamad Salleh to refund a total sum of RM300,000 which included the RM200,000 in damages and RM100,000 costs which was paid by Rafizi to him (Mohamad Salleh).
Hamid Sultan instructed Mohamad Salleh to refund the RM300,000 within 30 days, failing which a five percent per annum interest would be imposed until the payment is settled.
He also ordered Mohamad Salleh to pay RM10,000 costs for the Court of Appeal proceedings and RM100,000 in costs for proceedings in the High Court.
He also dismissed a cross-appeal brought by Mohamad Salleh on the quantum of damages.
Mohamad Salleh's lawyer Sarah Abishegam requested for a stay of the decision but Justice Hamid Sultan told her to make a formal application.
In 2013, Mohamad Salleh and NFCorp sued Rafizi, claiming that he (Rafizi) had made a defamatory statement on March 7, 2012 at a press conference at the PKR office on the purchase of KL Eco City properties, which was published by Malaysiakini on the same day.
On Oct 31, 2016, the High Court in Kuala Lumpur ordered Rafizi to pay RM150,000 in damages to Mohamad Salleh and RM50,000 in damages to NFCorp after allowing their suit against him (Rafizi).
Rafizi was also ordered by the High Court to pay RM100,000 costs to Mohamad Salleh.
The High Court, however, dismissed Mohamad Salleh's suit against Malaysiakini.
Earlier, the court rejected Sarah's application to postpone the appeal as well as her bid for the matter to be stood down until lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah was present in the court.
"This matter has been adjourned at least five times, and damages to the first respondent (Mohamad Salleh) is only RM150,000," said Hamid Sultan.
Both Rafizi and Mohamad Salleh were not present in the court.
Lawyer Ranjit Singh, representing Rafizi, said his client was only relying on the defence of fair comment.