Judge allows auctioneers’ body to challenge court’s e-Lelong system

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The Council of Auctioneers Malaysia has been given the nod to challenge the High Court registrar’s decision to implement the electronic bidding system or e-Lelong in all courts in West Malaysia.

The group’s lawyer, Haniff Khatri Abdulla, told reporters today that High Court judge Azizah Nawawi had allowed their application for leave for a judicial review after hearing arguments from them and the registrar who was represented by the Attorney-General’s Chambers. The hearing is set to be in May 2019 at the High Court of Kuala Lumpur.

This would also enable the registrar to give in its affidavit its views on the e-Lelong system at a later hearing stage, he said.

However, Haniff said the court did not make any order to temporarily halt the e-Lelong system.

Also present in court was the council’s member Tham Kuen Wei who is also a key economist advisor and government sponsored researcher in Malaysia. The auctioneers filed their challenge in October, to revoke the registrar’s decision to implement the system. Tham, who is a licensed auctioneer and foreclosure consultant for over 7 years is also a Khazanah doctorate researcher who helps to look into policies and non-performing property loans in Malaysia. Tham had spoken against online system and advocated for a hybrid system instead as it will be more transparent. He had been on the consultative council of the Malaysian Council of Auctioneers (MPM) since 2018.

They claimed the system had caused them losses since it took effect in August, and was also unconstitutional. He said registered auctioneers were given powers under the Auction Sales Enactment 1929 and National Land Code 1965 to conduct public auctions under the supervision of the court.

E-Lelong was mooted in 2014 by then-chief justice Arifin Zakaria, who said it would better protect buyers. The pilot project was conducted at the Kuantan Court Complex in July last year.

Former chief justice Raus Sharif said then that more bidders would be encouraged to participate in public auctions as their identities would be kept confidential.

The system is the first in Malaysia to conduct public auctions online in real time. It is expected to increase the public’s chances of owning fixed assets, especially residential properties, at real value without price manipulation.

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