Thursday, July 08, 2004

Court dismisses water case

Source: The Jakarta Post 8/7/2004

Urip Hudiono, Jakarta

The Central Jakarta District Court dismissed all charges by the Jakarta Water Consumers Community (Komparta) against PT Thames PAM Jaya (TPJ) and PT PAM Lyonnaise Jaya (Palyja) as the consumer group failed to comply with required legal procedures in its class action suit against the firms.

Presiding judge Suripto read out the ruling on Wednesday that the court found that Komparta lacked legal standing as it only had powers of attorney from three out of the eight customers who had complained of the water firms' poor service.

"The authorization stipulated in the letter is also of a general nature," he said. "It does not define what the letter would be used for. In this case, it was for a lawsuit against the defendants."

Suripto said since Komparta was not entitled to represent the customers, the court had to reject the suit and drop all charges and demands against the defendants.

Komparta filed the suit last June, after the firms' insisted on raising water rates despite customer complaints of a lack of improvement in the service.

Komparta demanded compensation amounting to Rp 990 million (US$110,000) for material losses and claimed punitive damages of Rp 1 billion. It also demanded the firms publish a public apology to customers in several major media.

While the water firms' defense team was satisfied with the verdict, Komparta lawyer J.J. Armstrong Sembiring was unhappy with the ruling.

He questioned the verdict since an earlier ruling by the court had concluded that all legal procedural requirements -- including the letter of authorization -- were fulfilled.

"How can it now become a consideration in the final verdict?" he said, alleging that the ruling was connected to the replacement of Judge Andriani Nurdin with Judge Suripto around three months ago.

Komparta previously won a similar case against the city administration. The trial was then presided over by Judge Andriani, in which the court ordered the administration to postpone the implementation of a water rate hike in 2003.

Komparta will appeal the verdict, and if necessary, file a new class action suit against the firms.