The Intermediate Court on February 13 dismissed an appeal by a cyclist who filed a lawsuit against a policeman, in official capacity, out of a road traffic accident.
Appellant and plaintiff Rustam Effendi bin Haji Minir Absah, represented by Nuramalina binti Abdul Latif of Messrs Sandhu and Co, filed the suit against defendant and respondent Muhammad Khairuddin bin Abdullah Ringgit, represented by Zainidi bin Haji Abdul Hamid and Sharah binti Abdul Hamid of Messrs ZS Legal.
The case arose from a road traffic accident at the roundabout of Jalan Singa Menteri/Pandan 5 on March 9, 2017.
The appellant was riding his bicycle along the roundabout when a collision occurred between him and the respondent driving a police car.
It was then set aside leading to Rustam Effendi’s appeal.
In the appeal heard by Judge Harnita Zelda Skinner, he stated that the Court Registrar had wrongly set aside the Judgement in Default obtained in his case against the respondent for the road traffic collision between himself as a cyclist and the respondent who was driving a Brunei Government car in the course of his duty.
The appellant admitted in his Statement of Claim that the motor vehicle driven by the respondent belonged to the Royal Brunei Police Force (RBPF) and that at all material time, the respondent was a driver of the RBPF.
The appellant argued that when the accident occurred, the respondent no longer had the protection of the immunity against court proceedings under Article 84B (2) of the Constitution of Brunei Darussalam.
He argued that the accident was committed by the respondent in his personal capacity and not in his official capacity.
The respondents cited Article 84B (2) of the Constitution which provides that “Any person acting on behalf, or under the authority, of His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam shall not be liable to any proceedings whatsoever in any court in respect of anything done or omitted to have been done by him in his official capacity”.
It was also the appellant’s argument that the respondent was negligent in causing the accident thereby committing a tortious act and further submitted that it was potentially an offence for careless driving under Section 29 of the Road Traffic Act.
The respondent is not facing any criminal offence charges for careless driving under Section 29 of the Road Traffic Act.
The appellate judge decided that the nature of the accident was indeed a tortious act, however the accident was not caused by the respondent while acting in his personal capacity.
The judge upheld the registrar’s decision to set aside the judgement obtained in default of appearance and struck out the case against the respondent as the respondent has an absolute defence and the appellant has no reasonable cause of action against the respondent.
The court also held that it would be an abuse of process of the court to allow the case to proceed any further.
The court also awarded costs to the respondent.