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Trial begins in Johor after developer Country Garden Danga Bay sued by condominium buyers

Country Garden Danga Bay, the developer, is being sued for fraud and misrepresentation.

Trial begins in Johor after developer Country Garden Danga Bay sued by condominium buyers

File photo of the Country Garden Danga Bay development in Johor Bahru. (Photo: Amir Yusof)

JOHOR BAHRU: The trial for a class action lawsuit filed by condominium unit owners against developer Country Garden Danga Bay kicked off in the Johor Bahru Civil High Court on Wednesday (Aug 3).

Dozens of disgruntled owners, including investors from Singapore, filed the lawsuit against Country Garden Danga Bay for fraud and misrepresentation.

The plaintiffs said that the developer had made changes to their sales and purchase agreements after they had signed them.

The lawsuit was first filed in 2018. The proceedings were delayed after the developer unsuccessfully applied to strike out some of the plaintiffs. The case was later postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The lawsuit was initially filed by 49 buyers, but eight plaintiffs have had their application struck out by the High Court. A total of 41 buyers, who are citizens of Singapore, Malaysia and China, are proceeding with the suit. 

On Wednesday, one of the plaintiffs Anson Soh took the stand and testified that based on a quantity surveyor report on his unit, restoration cost to the purported misrepresentation was estimated to be RM292,907.02 (US$65,700). 

Mr Soh, who owns a unit at the Royal Strand compound within the development, added that this was the cost required to “restore the unit to five-star living lifestyle” as promised by the developer. 

Additionally, the Singaporean testified that the developer had misrepresented some aspects of the condominium common area by delivering a property with designs different from what were stated in the sales and purchase agreement. 

Among the missing items were a rooftop sky gallery, a five-star lift lobby, a landscape design, water features and a railing at the sky garden, he said. 

“The estimated costs of the several missing items as indicated by architect Low Ai Ling (engaged by the plaintiffs) is RM53,207,840,” said Mr Soh. 

Mr Leonard Yeoh, the lawyer representing Country Garden, argued that Mr Soh was giving “hearsay evidence” to the testimony. 

“You should just read whatever is provided (in the report by the quantity surveyor) instead of adding that there is allegedly something missing. The report does not state this,” said the lawyer from Tay and Partners.  

The plaintiffs are represented by Ms Viola DeCruz of V L Decruz and Co. The case has been adjourned until Thursday at 11.30 am by High Court Judge Noor Hisham Ismail. 

Meanwhile, the developer has filed a separate lawsuit against five members of the condominium’s management committee.

The developer is alleging that the management committee did not inform Country Garden when it voted to change the property manager.

The case is set to be heard at the Johor Bahru Strata Management Tribunal on Thursday morning.

According to its Facebook page, Country Garden Danga Bay is an exclusive fully-integrated high-rise residential, commercial and leisure development fronting the Straits of Johor. 

Located within Iskandar Malaysia, an economic corridor in southern Johor, it is a project by Chinese developer Country Garden. 

Source: CNA/am(tx)

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