Friday, March 16, 2012

CEO loses RM20 million claim against Celcom for breach of privacy

Remember, what ever you say or send through SMSes on your phone, can be accesed by others as in the case below.

As reported by The Star Online on 16th March 2012.

A chief executive officer of a company lost her RM20 million claim against Celcom Axiata Bhd on Friday, 16th March 2012, for allegedly revealing her private "juicy" SMS exchanges and telephone conversation recordings to a third party.

Noor Haslina Abdullah, 41, filed two suits against Celcom for breach of privacy, confidence, contract and negligence.

High Court Judicial Commissioner Vazeer Alam Mydin Meera held that Noor Haslina failed to prove that Celcom had revealed her private SMSes and telephone conversation recordings to third party.

JC Vazeer dismissed both suits and awarded total costs of RM50,000 to Celcom.

The judge made the order after hearing a full joint-trial of both suits.

Noor Haslina called seven witnesses, including an officer from Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission while two Celcom officers testified in the trial.

JC Vazeer also allowed a counter-claim by Celcom for abuse of process and ordered damages to be assessed by a registrar later.

Counsel Rishwant Singh and M. Gandhi Mohan represented Celcom while lawyers K.P. Lim and Melissa Shukri acted for the plaintiff.

Speaking to reporters later, Rishwant said the court held that it was abuse of process on part of the plaintiff for not giving a copy of lawsuit soon after filing of the claim. "Only after close to a month did they serve the sealed copy of the suit to us. She never gave Celcom a copy of the claim immediately although numerous letters were sent to her lawyer.

"We told her that we have the right to be given the claim as we are a party in the claim," said Rishwant.

Rishwant said the photographs of the plaintiff holding up a copy of her claim was published by the media when she filed the suit at the Kota Baru High Court in 2010.

In her lawsuit on private SMSes filed on Aug 29, 2010, Noor Haslina, who was then CEO of a private college in Kuala Terengganu, said when she arrived at her office on March 11,2010 she received a package which contained nine A4 sized pages with information about her 36 SMS exchanges from her private cell phone which was registered with Celcom on the "Family Package" contract.

She said the package had already been opened by an assistant whose routine task was to receive and open mail addressed to her.

She said she lodged a police report against Celcom on March 14, 2010 for allegedly revealing her private information.

She said she suffered trauma, fear, humiliation and loss of reputation due to the circulation of her SMSes by Celcom.

She said she also had to turn to friends to accompany her everywhere she went due to pressure and threats by individuals who had read the SMSes.

In the second lawsuit over phone recordings filed on the same day, she said the package also had a pendrive which contained her personal telephone conversation recordings from the same private cell phone which was registered with Celcom.

She included the phone recordings which lasted 42 minutes and 45 seconds saying that it has caused her to be in fear of using Celcom phone line as she was that her private information and secrets might be leaked to a third party.

Among others, she said Celcom had committed breach of contract for circulating her confidential information to others without getting her consent and committing trespass over her private rights.

In each suit, she sought RM8mil in exemplary damages and another RM2mil for injury of her feelings, trauma and mental stress.

In the counter-claim filed on Nov 10, 2010, Celcom stated that the actions of the plaintiff had damaged its reputation and goodwill and applied for a judgment for abuse of process, malicious prosecution and libel.

In its defence, Celcom denied breaching any term in the written contract between them.

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