KUALA LUMPUR: The Edge Communications Sdn Bhd was awarded RM500,000 in exemplary damages in addition to a RM11.2 million compensatory damages for loss of revenue due to the three-month suspension of two of its publications by the Home Ministry in 2015.
High Court judge Datuk Nordin Hassan made the order after allowing the publishing firm’s appeal for exemplary damages.
However, he did not allow the publication’s appeal for aggravated and constitutional damages as the court found it to be inappropriate.
In awarding the exemplary damages, the judge said The Edge Communications had been a victim of a reckless, arbitrary and unconstitutional act by the respondent, the Home Ministry.
“This is an exceptional circumstance that the court took into account to grant exemplary damages,” said Nordin.
Meanwhile, the court dismissed the government’s appeal against the RM11.2 million compensation to the publication with costs of RM15,000.
Nordin said the claims for compensatory damages by The Edge Communications was for the net cost of the company’s primary sources of revenue which were from the sales of the affected publications.
He said there was also evidence from the company's financial controller and documentary evidence to prove that the computation for the total sum of RM11.2 million was correct and the assumptions made were reasonable.
Nordin said evidence had also shown that the publication of The Edge Weekly due in July 2015 and five other issues of The Edge Financial Daily as well as the advertisements which had already been booked by clients had to be cancelled.
“The method of computation of The Edge's financial controller and the sum arrived at is supported by an expert report dated Dec 20, 2017,” he said, adding that on the other hand, the respondents had not produced any evidence to challenge the method of calculation for the amount claimed.
Nordin also said the deputy registrar’s decision in awarding the amount of compensation was correct.
On Dec 17 last year, the respondents - the Home Ministry and its secretary-general - were ordered to pay RM11,260,350 to The Edge Communications due to the suspension which came about due to its 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) coverage.
This followed the decision of deputy registrar Norazlin Othman after she allowed the publication firm's application for compensatory damages.
The home minister had, in 2015, suspended the publishing permit of The Edge Weekly and The Edge Financial Daily for three months from July 27, 2015.
The ministry’s decision on the suspension was because the two publications’ reporting of 1MDB were deemed “prejudicial or likely to be prejudicial to public order, security or likely to alarm public opinion or is likely to be prejudicial to public and national interest”.
On Aug 9 last year, the Federal Court ruled that The Edge Communications could claim damages from the Home Ministry for losses incurred over the three-month suspension of two of its publications in 2015.
Following the decision, the matter was remitted to the High Court for damages to be assessed.
On Aug 30, 2016, the Court of Appeal dismissed the Home Ministry’s appeal on the High Court’s order for assessment of damages.