The name 'Adorna' has become famous for the wrong reason. The obviously wrong verdict in favour of a purchaser despite fraud in obtaining a land title must have sent shivers to landowners of long-held properties to which they have the original titles but which could have replacement titles issued to imposters without their knowledge.
Normally, in cases of fraud, there is no time limit. But in this highly controversial land transfer case, an earlier decision by a Bench of Federal Court judges in favour of the fraudulent transfer must have made it legit, and a subsequent reversal of verdict by a different Bench of FC judges is only good for show but time-barred for effect.
Nades of The Sun explains in his article, Family seeks closure in land case:
"It all started on June 18, 1989 when an imposter claiming to be Sun Yok Eng @ Boonsom Boonyanit affirmed a statutory declaration that she had lost the original title to two lots of land in Tanjung Bungah, Penang. The imposter then managed to obtain a certified copy of the title from the Penang Land Office.
On April 6, 1989, the imposter affirmed a second statutory declaration declaring that the names Boonsom Boonyanit and Sun Yok Eng @ Boonsom Boonyanit on the title to the land were one and the same person, that is, Boonsom Boonyanit (imposter) with a different Thai passport number.
With the declaration, the imposter managed to perfect the registration of the memorandum of transfer in favour of Adorna Properties. Boonyanit then sued for the return of the land. The High Court ruled in favour of Adorna.
On appeal, the Court of Appeal ruled in favour of Boonyanit. Adorna then appealed, and the Federal Court and a panel comprising then Chief Justice Tun Eusoff Chin, Chief Judge of Malaya Tan Sri Wan Adnan Ismail and Justice Abu Mansor Ali, held that Adorna had obtained an indefeasible title notwithstanding the forgery because it was a bona fide purchaser."
"On Jan 21, 2010 – more than six years after the Federal Court shut its doors permanently on his claims – the same court reversed its decision but deals had been done and there was no relief for Kobchai. But he'd be happy that the decision will change the lives of others who have been victims of fraudulent land transfers..."
"I am legally obligated to restate the law since the error committed in Adorna Properties is so obvious and blatant. It is quite a well-known fact that some unscrupulous people have been taking advantage of this error by falsely transferring titles to themselves. I hope that with this decision, the Land Authorities will be extra cautious when registering transfers," Justice Zaki noted in his judgment.
"This ruling indirectly brought out the inadequacies, weaknesses and flaws in the Land Office. More importantly, it reflected how a massive fraud was perpetrated with inside help."
Rest of article: