Yung Ing Ing v Hunfara Construction Sdn Bhd
Civil Appeal No. Q-02-2628-12/2013; Court of Appeal
Date of Judgment: 24 July 2015 | Source: Federal Court Registry

IN THE COURT OF APPEAL, MALAYSIA

(APPELLATE JURISDICTION)

SITTING AT KUCHING, SARAWAK

CIVIL APPEAL NO. Q-02-2628-12/2013

Appellant

YUNG ING ING

v.

Respondent

HUNFARA CONSTRUCTION SDN. BHD.

[In the matter of the High Court of Sabah and Sarawak at Kuching,
Originating Summons No. KCH-24-113/7-2013]

[Plaintiff

Hunfara Construction Sdn. Bhd.

v.

Defendant

Yung Ing Ing]

CORAM: MOHD HISHAMUDIN YUNUS, JCA; DAVID WONG DAK WAH, JCA; UMI KALTHUM ABDUL MAJID, JCA

JUDGMENT OF MOHD HISHAMUDIN YUNUS, JCA

Introduction

[1] This is an appeal against the decision of the High Court of Sabah and Sarawak at Kuching delivered on 25 October 2013.

[2] The learned High Court judge, upon hearing the respondent's originating summons application, had granted the following declaration and order:

(a) That for the purpose of section 121(2) of the Companies Act 1965 the defendant (the appellant in this appeal) be declared as the officer of YWP Construction Sdn. Bhd. (‘the company' - formerly known as ‘YWP Builders Sdn. Bhd.') that signed or issued the following four cheques:

(i) Public Bank Berhad (‘PBB') cheque No. 277319 dated 30.5.2013 for the sum of RM100,000.00 (‘the first cheque');

(ii) PBB cheque No. 277320 dated 30.6.2013 for the sum of RM330,000.00 (‘the second cheque');

(iii) PBB Cheque No. 277321 dated 30.7.2013 for the sum of RM330,000.00 (‘the third cheque'); and

(iv) PBB cheque No. 277322 dated 30.8.2013 for the sum of RM340,000.00 (‘the fourth cheque');

where in each of the four cheques the current name of the company is not mentioned. (In this judgment I shall be referring to these four cheques collectively as ‘the four cheques'.)

(b) That pursuant to section 121(2) of the Companies Act 1965 (‘the Companies Act'), the defendant do pay the plaintiff the sum of RM1,100,000.00.

[3] The above declaration and order are made in accordance with the prayers sought for in the originating summons.

[4] This case involves an interpretation of section 121(2) of the Companies Act. Section 121 provides -

Publication of name

121. (1) The name of the company (whether or not it is carrying on business under a business name) in legible romanized letters and the company number of the company shall appear on -

(a) its seal; and

(b) all business letters, statements of account, invoices, official notices, publications, bills of exchange, promissory notes, endorsements, cheques, orders, receipts and letters of credit of or purporting to be issued or signed by or on behalf of, the company,

and if default is made in complying with this subsection the company shall be guilty of an offence against this Act.

(1A) Where a company has changed its name pursuant to section 23, the former name of the company shall also appear beneath its present name on all documents, business letters, statements of account, invoices, official notices, publications, bills of exchange, promissory notes, endorsements, cheques, orders, receipts and letters of credit of, or purporting to be issued or signed by or on behalf of, the company for a period of not less than twelve months from the date of the change, and if default is made in complying with this subsection the company shall be guilty of an offence against this Act.

(2) If an officer of a company or any person on its behalf -

(a) uses or authorizes the use of any seal purporting to be a seal of the company whereon its name does not so appear;

(b) issues or authorizes the issue of any business letter, statement of account, invoice, official notice or publication of the company wherein its name and former name (if applicable) is not so mentioned; or

(c) signs issues or authorizes to be signed or issued on behalf of the company any bill of exchange, promissory note, cheque or other negotiable instrument or any endorsement, order, receipt or letter of credit wherein its name and former name (if applicable) is not so mentioned,

he shall be guilty of an offence against this Act, and where he has signed, issued or authorized to be signed or issued on behalf of the company any bill of exchange, promissory note or other negotiable instrument or any endorsement thereon or order wherein that name and former name (if applicable) is not so mentioned, he shall in addition be liable to the holder of the instrument or order for the amount due thereon unless it is paid by the company.

[5] We heard the appeal on 16 April 2015. We reserved judgment. We announced that the Court will deliver its judgment on 24 July 2015.

[6] This is my judgment.

The facts of the case.

[7] In the year 2012 the plaintiff (Hunfara Construction Sdn. Bhd.) commenced a civil suit (‘the 2012 civil suit') against a company called ‘YWP Builders Sdn. Bhd.' in the High Court of Sabah and Sarawak at Kuching (there are other defendants as well in that 2012 civil suit but we are not concerned with them for the purpose of this appeal). It is not stated in the cause papers of the present originating summons as to the cause of action in that 2012 civil suit.

[8] Be that as it may, on 28th March, 2013 a consent judgment was obtained by the plaintiff against YWP Builders Sdn. Bhd. and one other defendant (of that 2012 civil suit) who were jointly and severally ordered to pay the plaintiff the sum of RM1,100,000.00 by way of four installment payments. (It is further ordered that in default of any installment payment, the whole judgment sum shall immediately become due and payable.)

[9] In the light of the consent judgment, YWP Builders Sdn. Bhd. issued the four cheques as mentioned earlier.

[10] It is not disputed that the defendant (Yung Ing Ing) when she issued the four cheques was a director of the YWP Construction Sdn. Bhd. and is an officer of the company by virtue of the definition of "officer" in section 4 of the Companies Act.

[11] All the four cheques are post-dated cheques.

[12] Each of the four cheques is crossed with the words ‘A/C PAYEE ONLY'.

[13] On 30 May 2013 the first cheque was dishonoured upon presentation for payment. (By virtue of the consent judgment, the whole judgment sum became due and payable with interest at the prescribed rate.)

[14] On 24 December 2012 YWP Builders Sdn. Bhd. changed its name to ‘YWP Construction Sdn. Bhd.'. The company number for YWP Builders Sdn. Bhd. was 761221-D. When YWP Builders Sdn. Bhd. changed its name to ‘YWP Construction Sdn. Bhd.' it retains the same company number. In other words, the company number for YWP Construction Sdn. Bhd. is still 761221-D.

[15] However, the new name ‘YWP Construction Sdn. Bhd.' is not mentioned on any of the four cheques. But the previous name of the company, that is, ‘YWP Builders Sdn. Bhd.' is mentioned. The company number for ‘YWP Builders Sdn. Bhd.', that is, 761221-D, is also stated in each of the four cheques, next to the company's name.

[16] The name of the company when the 2012 civil suit was commenced was ‘YWP Builders Sdn. Bhd.' and the consent judgment was made in that name.

[17] To-date, neither the defendant nor the company has made any payment for the sum due under the consent judgment despite the company and the defendant having received the letter of demand dated 7 June 2013.

[18] The originating summons was filed on 12 July 2013. At the time of the filing of the originating summons only the first and second cheques (dated 30 May 2013 and 30 June 2013, respectively) were due for payment. The third and fourth cheques were not.

[19] Except for the first cheque, the other three cheques were never presented to the bank for payment.

The plaintiff's submission

[20] It is the contention of the plaintiff that pursuant to section 121(2) of the Companies Act, the defendant is liable to the plaintiff for the sum of RM1,100,000.00 being the total ‘amount due' on the four cheques, in default of payment by the company.

[21] It is the further contention that the word ‘negotiable instrument' in that limb of section 121(2) (the limb after limb (c)) that states -

and where he has signed, issued or authorized to be signed or issued on behalf of the company any bill of exchange, promissory note or other negotiable instrument or any endorsement thereon or order wherein that name and former name (if applicable) is not so mentioned, he shall in addition be liable to the holder of the instrument or order for the amount due thereon unless it is paid by the company.

includes cheques.

The defendant's submission

[22] It is the contention of the defendant that there was no breach of section 121(2) of the Companies Act since the former name of the company (that is to say, ‘YWP Builders Sd. Bhd.') and the company number ‘761221-D' (which is also the same company number for YWP Construction Sdn. Bhd.) are stated on each of the four cheques. Thus, there was no intention to deceive anyone and it is clear to anyone receiving the four cheques that they were company cheques for ‘YWP Builders Sdn Bhd.'/‘YWP Construction Sdn. Bhd.', and not the personal cheques of the defendant. It is argued that in interpreting section 121(2) of the Companies Act the Court must adopt a purposive approach, citing the following English cases:

(1) F. Stacy and Co. (Limited) v. Wallis and Others [1912] 106 LT 544;

(2) Atkin and Co. v. Wardle and Others [1889] The Law Times Vol. LXI, 23; and

(3) Banque de I'Indochine et de Suez SA v Euroseas Group Finance Co Ltd and Others [1981] 3 All ER 198.

[23] It is the further submission of the defendant that the plaintiff's claim in respect of the 3rd and 4th cheques is premature as at the time of the filing of the originating summons (12 July 2013) these two post-dated cheques were not yet due for payment and were never presented to the bank.

Decision of the High Court

[24] At the High Court of Kuching the learned Judge allowed the plaintiff's originating summons application. The learned Judge ruled -

20.It is plain and obvious that pursuant to section 4 of the Companies Act, the Defendant, being the director of the YWP Construction Sdn. Bhd., is an officer of the company. It is not in dispute that the Defendant has signed the four cheques in question and as of today, the company has not paid the money due to the Plaintiff under the Consent Judgment despite the Defendant having received the letter of demand [Exhibit LTP-5]. In the premise, pursuant to section 121(2)(c) of the Companies Act, the Defendant shall be liable to the Plaintiff for the sum of RM1,100,000.00 being the amount due on the four post-dated cheques.

[25] The learned High Court Judge, in her grounds of judgment, did not embark upon any analysis of the provisions of section 121 of the Companies Act.

My decision

[26] In my judgment the learned High Court Judge, with respect, erred in allowing the plaintiff's claim and in assuming that the limb in question of subsection (2) of section 121 of the Companies Act applies to cheques.

[27] It is important to note that limb (c) of subsection (2) of section 121 of the Companies Act has the word ‘cheque' in it, apart from the words ‘bill of exchange', ‘promissory note' and ‘other negotiable instrument'. Section 121(2) limb (c) reads -

(c) signs issues or authorizes to be signed or issued on behalf of the company any bill of exchange, promissory note, cheque or other negotiable instrument or any endorsement, order, receipt or letter of credit wherein its name and former name (if applicable) is not so mentioned, [The underlining is mine.]

[28] And it is also pertinent to note that that limb of section 121 (2) following limb (c) of subsection (2) of section 121, whilst, like limb (c) of subsection (2) of section 121, it has the words ‘bill of exchange', ‘promissory note' and ‘other negotiable instrument' in it, yet there is a significant difference in the wording between the two limbs: for, unlike limb (c) of subsection (2) of section 121, this latter limb of section 121(2) does not have the word ‘cheque' in it. It merely reads -

... and where he has signed, issued or authorized to be signed or issued on behalf of the company any bill of exchange, promissory note or other negotiable instrument or any endorsement thereon or order wherein that name and former name (if applicable) is not so mentioned, he shall in addition be liable to the holder of the instrument or order for the amount due thereon unless it is paid by the company ...

[29] This being the scheme of the drafting of the provision, in my judgment, it must be ruled that this particular (or latter) limb of subsection (2) of section 121, although, like limb (c) of subsection (2), it applies to bills of exchange, promissory notes and negotiable instruments, it does not, however, apply to cheques. This must be the intention of the Act; for, otherwise, why is it that limb (c) of subsection (2) of section 121 has the word ‘cheque' in it (besides the words ‘bill of exchange', ‘promissory note' and ‘other negotiable instrument'), yet the word ‘cheque' was omitted from the subsequent (or latter) limb of subsection (2) of that section, whilst references to ‘bill of exchange', ‘promissory note' and ‘other negotiable instrument' were retained? If the latter limb does not apply to cheques then the failure to state the current name of the company in each of the four cheques, as a matter of law, does not entitle the plaintiff to claim from the defendant for payment in respect of the sums as specified in the cheques pursuant to section 121(2) of the Companies Act.

[30] In my judgment it is a principle of interpretation of statutes that where the legislature includes a particular term in one part or section of a statute but omits it in another part or section of the same, it must be presumed that the legislature acts intentionally and purposely in the disparate inclusion or exclusion. There are the principles of construction as pointed out by Bennion on Statutory Interpretation (LexisNexis 5th edn. at p. 1157, 1160):

Construction as a whole requires that, unless the contrary appears, three principles should be applied. These are that every word in the Act should be given a meaning, the same word should be given the same meaning, and different words should be given different meanings.

Every word to be given meaning On the presumption that Parliament does nothing in vain, the court must endeavour to give significance to every word of an enactment. It is presumed that if a word or phrase appears, it was put there for a purpose and must not be disregarded.

...

Different words to be given different meanings Similarly it is presumed that the drafter did not indulge in elegant variation, but kept to a particular term when wishing to convey a particular meaning...

[31] Therefore, the inclusion of the word ‘cheque' in limb (c) of subsection (2) of section 121 and the exclusion of the word ‘cheque' in the latter limb of that subsection was done intentionally and purposely by Parliament; and the Court must give effect to the intention of Parliament: that whilst the former limb (limb (c)) applies to cheques, the latter (subsequent) limb does not.

[32] It appears to me that the plaintiff seems to be conscious of the absence of the word ‘cheque' in the later limb of subsection (2) of section 121; and that explains its reliance on the words ‘other negotiable instruments' in its written submission to justify its contention that this latter limb applies to cheques as well. The plaintiff assumes, albeit rather erroneously, that the four cheques are ‘negotiable instruments'.

[33] The defendant, however, in her written submission, unfortunately, appears to be oblivious to the absence of the word ‘cheque' in the latter limb of the subsection. But assuming that the defendant (or her learned counsel) was in fact conscious of the omission of the word ‘cheque' in the latter limb of the subsection in question, it is rather puzzling that she (or her counsel) could have overlooked the fact that such an omission does have an important implication in terms of statutory interpretation - an implication that would be to the defendant's favour.

[34] The learned High Court Judge, as I have pointed out earlier, also did not touch on this issue (that is, on the omission of the word ‘cheque') in her grounds of judgment.

Whether the four cheques are negotiable instruments

[35] In any event, even assuming for the moment that the words ‘negotiable instruments' in the latter limb of subsection (2) of section 121 include cheques, as contended by the plaintiff, it is, however, my view that in the present case the four cheques, in law, are not negotiable instruments. It is true that cheques, like bills of exchange and promissory notes, are forms of negotiable instruments. However, in the present case, each of the four cheques is crossed with the words ‘A/C PAYEE ONLY'. This makes the cheques non-transferrable. Section 81A of the Bills of Exchange Act 1949 (‘the Bills of Exchange Act') provides -

Non-transferable cheque

81A. (1) Where a cheque is crossed and bears across its face the words ‘account payee' or ‘a/c payee', either with or without the word ‘only', the cheque shall not be transferable, but shall only be valid as between the parties thereto.

[36] Now, one of the basic attributes of a negotiable instrument is the right of the payee to transfer the instrument to another person. In Poh Chu Chai on Law of NEGOTIABLE INSTRUMENTS 5th edn., at p. 6, the learned author enlightens us on the law governing negotiable instruments as follows:

A negotiable instrument generally possesses three main characteristics. First, the instrument is freely transferable. Secondly, a transferee of the instrument is entitled to sue on the instrument in his own name. Thirdly, the instrument enables a bona fide transferee for value of the instrument to acquire a title to the instrument better than the person who transferred the instrument to him. This body of customary usages and practices forms what is now known as the law merchant. The common law eventually had to give its recognition to these customary practices and the law merchant has since been assimilated as part of the common law.

[37] The common law of England continues to apply in Malaysia by virtue of section 3 of the Civil Law Act 1956.

[38] By crossing a cheque with the words ‘Account Payee' the cheque becomes non-transferable meaning that the right of the payee to transfer the instrument is taken away by the instrument. According to the common law, such an instrument is then no longer a negotiable instrument but constitutes a mere contract between the parties (see Poh Chu Chai on Law of NEGOTIABLE INSTRUMENTS 5th edn. at p. 384).

Conclusion

[39] In the light of the reasons as given the above, I am allowing the appeal with costs of RM10,000 to the appellant/defendant for here and below. The order of the High Court is set aside; and the deposit refunded to the appellant/defendant.

[40] Umi Kalthum JCA has read this judgment and agrees with it.

[Appeal allowed with costs of RM10,000 to appellant/defendant for here and below; deposit refunded to appellant/defendant]

Dato' Mohd Hishamudin Yunus
Judge, Court of Appeal
Palace of Justice
Putrajaya

Date of decision and full judgment: 24 July 2015 [Read out in open Court by a Deputy Registrar/Senior Assistant Registrar of the Court of Appeal/High Court of Kuching at the High Court of Kuching]

JUDGEMENT OF DAVID WONG DAK WAH, JCA

Introduction:

[1] This is an appeal by the Appellant against the decision of the High Court in which the learned Judge found the Appellant personally liable for 4 cheques amounting to RM1,100,000.00 issued to the Respondent on behalf of a company.

[2] On 16 April 2015, we heard the appeal and reserved judgment to 24th July 2015. I now give my grounds and decision.

Background facts:

[3] The factual matrix is fairly straightforward. They are undisputed and are as set out in both the submissions of counsel for the Appellant and Respondent which I adopt with the appropriate amendments.

[4] YWP Builders Sdn Bhd changed its name to YWP Construction Sdn Bhd on 12 July 2013.

[5] The Appellant was at the material time a director of YWP Construction Sdn Bhd.

[6] On 28 March 2013, a Consent Judgment under Suit No. KCH-22- 11/1-2012 was obtained by the Respondent against YWP Builders Sdn Bhd and Yung Wei Pong in which YWP Builders Sdn Bhd and Yung Wei Pong were ordered to jointly and severally pay the sum of RM1,100,000.00 by 4 instalments. It was also ordered that in default of any instalment payment, the whole remaining judgment sum shall be immediately due and payable together with interest at 5% per annum.

[7] Pursuant to the Consent Judgment, YWP Builders Sdn Bhd issued 4 cheques to the Respondent wherein the name of the company stated in the cheques remained as YWP Builders Sdn Bhd as opposed to the new name YWP Construction Sdn Bhd.

[8] The 4 cheques were for the following sums:-

(a) PBB 277319 dated 30.5.2013 for the sum of RM100,000.00;

(b) PBB277320 dated 30.6.2013 for the sum of RM330,000.00;

(c) PBB277321 dated 30.7.2013 for the sum of RM330,000.00;

(d) PBB277322 dated 30.8.2013 for the sum of RM340,000.00.

[9] The company number for YWP Builders Sdn Bhd and YWP Construction Sdn Bhd is the same which is 761221-D. The reason is simply that in situation involving only in a change of a company's name the company number remains.

[10] The name of the company when Suit No. KCH-22-11/1-2012 was commenced was YWP Builders Sdn Bhd and the consent Judgment was made in the name of YWP Builders Sdn Bhd.

[11] The cheques issued by YWP Builders Sdn Bhd each bear the name of "YWP Builders Sdn Bhd" and the aforesaid company number.

[12] As holder of the four post-dated cheques, the Respondent filed in an application for an order that the Appellant be made personally liable for the 4 post-dated cheques premised on section 121(2)(c) of the Companies Act 1965.

High Court decision and grounds:

[13] The learned Judge sustained the Respondent's application premised on her construction of section 121(3)(c) of the Companies Act which reads as follows:

"If an officer of a company ... signs, issues or authorizes to be signed or issued on behalf of the company any ... cheque or other negotiable instrument ... wherein its name and former name (if applicable) is not so mentioned, he shall be guilty of an offence against this Act, and where he has signed, issued or authorized to be signed or issued on behalf of the company any ... negotiable instrument ... wherein that name and former name (if applicable) is not so mentioned, he shall in addition be liable to the holder of the instrument or order for the amount due thereon unless it is paid by the company."

[14] The learned Judge held that the aforesaid provision applies to the factual matrix before her and the rationale in her words is as follows:

"17.The language employed in section 121(2)(c) Companies Act, as rightly submitted by counsel for the Plaintiff, is plain and obvious. It vividly states that the cause of action for personal liability of the cheque signatory arises when the following elements are satisfied:

a. The cheque wherein its name and former name of the company is not so mentioned has been signed.

b. The cheque was signed by an officer of a company.

c. The company has not paid for the amount due on the cheque.

18. The Defendant has not shown what is the other meaning of section121 (2) (c) of the Companies Act.

19. Given that the language in section 121(2)(c)of the Companies Act is plain and obvious, on the high authority of All Malayan Estate Staff Union case cited in Andrew Lee Siew Ling, supra, the purposive approach as contended by the Defendant has no application in the present case.

20. It is plain and obvious that pursuant to section 4 of the Companies Act, the Defendant, being the director of the YWP Construction Sdn Bhd, is an officer of the company. It is not in dispute that the Defendant has signed the four cheques in question and as of today, the company has not paid the money due to the Plaintiff under the Consent Judgment despite the Defendant having received the letter of demand [Exhibit LTP-5]. In the premise, pursuant to section 121(2)(c) of the Companies Act, the Defendant shall be liable to the Plaintiff for the sum of RM1,100,000.00 being the amount due on the four post-dated cheques."

Grounds of decision:

[15] It is conceded by counsel for the Appellant that the three elements listed above have been satisfied if the learned Judge's construction of section 121(3)(c) is upheld. However, learned counsel urges the Court to adopt a construction reflecting the time we live in now.

[16] In construing any statute, the starting point in my view is section 17A of the Interpretation Acts 1948 and 1967 which provides as follows:

"In the interpretation of a provision of an Act, a construction that would promote the purpose or object underlying the Act (whether that purpose or object is expressly stated in the Act or not) shall be preferred to a construction that would not promote that purpose or object"

[17] It can be said then section 17A dictates that the Court should first look for the purpose or object of the statute and in this appeal it is section 121(2)(c).

[18] Learned counsel for the Appellant referred the Court to the English decisions (F. Stacey and Co.(Limited) v Wallis and Others [1912] 28 LT 209 , Penrose v Martyr (E.B. and E., 499), Atkin and Co. v Wardle and others LXI LT 23, Banque de' Indochine et de Suez SA v Euroseas Group Finance Co Ltd and others [1981] 3 All ER 198) where the English Courts considered a similar provision to that section 121(2)(c) in section 63 of the British Companies Act 1908 which reads as follows:

"The Companies Act 1908, provides as follows in section 63 subsection (1): - "Every limited company... (c) shall have its name mentioned in legible characters ... in all bills of exchange, promissory notes, endorsement, cheques, and orders for money or goods purporting to be signed by or on behalf of the company,:

Subsection (3) provided that "if any director, manager or officer of a limited company or any person on its behalf... signs or authorizes to be signed on behalf of the company any bill of exchange, promissory note, endorsement, cheques, order for money or goods...wherein its name is not mentioned in manner aforesaid, he shall be liable to a fine not exceeding fifty pounds, and shall further be personally liable to the holder of any such bill of exchange, promissory note, cheque or order for money on goods for the amount thereof unless the same is paid by the company."

[19] The English Courts held that "the intention of the enactment plainly was to prevent persons from being deceived into believing that they had a security with the unlimited liability of common law when they had but the security of a company limited." (as per Justice Crompton in Penrose v Martyr (E.B. and E., 499))

[20] Denman J in Atkin and Co. v Wardle and others LXI LT 23 Commenting on section 41 and 42 of the Companies Act 1862 (England) said as follows:

"... the intention of the Act was to ensure extreme strictness in all transactions in behalf of limited companies as regard to the use of the registered name of the company, not only in enforcing the use of the word "limited", but in all other respects. Cases may easily be conceived in which a very slight variation for the registered name might lead a person to believe that he was taking a bill of a totally different kind of company from that to which the directors signing the bill really belonged; it may well be conceived that sect. 41 and 42 were inserted, or rather re-enacted, by the Legislature, as they were after the decision of Penrose v Martyr (E.B. and E., 499) with the intention of ensuring the strictest accuracy in this respect for the protection of the public."

[21] Premised on the English authorities, it can be said that the object of section 121(2)(c) is to ensure that the payees of cheques are not deceived into believing that the director is signing on behalf of a totally different entity from that the director signing the cheques belongs to. The question to be asked whether in the circumstances before this Court was there any deception here.

[22] To recap, it is undisputed here that the Appellant was never a party to the consent Judgment which was between the Respondent, YWP Builders Sdn Bhd and Yung Wei Pong. That consent judgment required payments from YWP Builders Sdn Bhd and not from the Appellant. However the Appellant being a director of YWP Builders Sdn Bhd issued four cheques to comply with the consent Judgment. The crucial undisputed fact is that YWP Builders Sdn Bhd has by then changed its name to YWP Construction Sdn Bhd and the four cheques though still carried the old name of YWP Builders Sdn Bhd had the same company number which in law never changes despite of any name changes.

[23] With that same company number endorsed on the four cheques, can it be said that the Respondent had been deceived or that the Appellant had the intention to deceive. It is my view that the answer must be in the negative. It is undisputed that when section 121(2)(c) was enacted in 15 April 1966, it can be said that the existence and requirement of having the company's number endorsed on the cheques was not envisaged. Applying the purposive approach in constructing statute, one must take into account of the present prevailing circumstances and then give it an interpretation which enhances the object of the Act. In the context of section 121(2)(c), it is my interpretation that the Appellant should not be held liable as there is no deception as envisaged in section 121(2)(c).

[24] Further one must not lose sight of a basic principle of Company Law and that is the rule of Foss v Harbottle which prescribes that a company is a separate and independent legal entity which can be sued or sue. Only by clear legislation, can this basic principle be dismantled. Hence in interpreting section 121(2)(c), this basic principle must be given its due regard which I have done so.

Conclusion:

[25] This is another case where there is no local case law on a specific provision of our Companies Act. Be that as it may, I am guided by the section 17A of the Interpretation Acts 1948 and 1967 to give it an interpretation which not only enhances the object of section 121(2)(c) but also reflect the time which we live in. Legislations must continue to evolve and Courts have a duty in this respect provided of course it does not do damage to the words employed therein.

[26] The interpretation which I have given reflects what I said in the previous paragraph.

[27] Accordingly I find that the Respondent does not have a cause of action under section 121(2)(c) and allow the appeal with costs in the sum of RM10,000.00 for here and below. I also order that the orders of High Court be set aside and the deposit be refunded to the Appellant.

Dated: 24th July 2015

DAVID WONG DAK WAH
Judge
Court of Appeal Malaysia

Notice: This copy of the Court's Reasons for Judgment is subject to formal revision.

Alvin Yong and Shirleen Ong (Messrs Chong Brothers Advocates) for the Appellant

Jacquelyn Hii and Zal Hii Sing Tieng (Messrs Spring Advocates) for the respondent

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