High court orders interior design firm Tatum to return RM2.3 million immediately

The Kuala Lumpur High Court had yesterday Wednesday ordered a Bangsar interior decorator firm to refund a sum of RM2,313,452.07 to its client for breach of services and deliverables. Judge Datuk Lee Swee Seng ordered that the sum be paid immediately.

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Interior decorator firm Tatum (KL) Sdn Bhd had in their original claim sued Ivy Craft Sdn Bhd for wrongful termination but in a counter claim, the property company owned by Datin Seri Elena Taib and her Sarawak business entrepreneur husband Datuk Seri Mahmud Abu Bekir Taib, sought for the return of a substantial portion of the monies paid as deposits and payment for purported work done.

The dispute between the parties centred around two agreements – an interior design agreement dated 1 August 2013 and a letter of appointment for interior design dated 14 July 2015 referred to as the FFE agreement.

Tatum had in their original claim sought a sum of €464,786.00 (or RM2,186,678.69) that it alleged to be entitled to for purported unlawful termination of the FFE agreement. The learned judge however dismissed Tatum’s claim against Ivy Craft on grounds that it had breached Order 5, Rule 6 (2) of the Rules of Court 2012 as Tatum was not represented by solicitors. Further, no evidence was led by Tatum to substantiate their claim against Ivy Craft. Tatum’s claims remained and stood unproven even upon conclusion of the trial.

Ivy Craft’s counter claim against Tatum for breach of contract under the two agreements, sought relief in a sum of RM1,088,882.14 as overpayment under the interior design agreement and a refund of the deposit sum of RM1,224,569.93 paid under the FFE agreement.

The learned Judge allowed the claims against Tatum on grounds that there had been a total failure of consideration under the FFE Agreement wherein Tatum had confirmed that the 30 per cent deposit paid to Tatum amounting to RM1,224,569.93 was not utilised to purchase items as per contract but utilised for other purposes.

The FFE Agreement inextricably linked to the ID Agreement could also not be performed due to failure in performing the ID Agreement. The expert architect who attended trial and gave evidence on Ivy Craft’s behalf had done an analysis on the works performed by Tatum under the ID agreement and established that only 30 per cent of the works alleged to have been completed, had in fact been done leaving a total of RM1,088,882.14 paid by Ivy Craft unaccounted for. The evidence from the architect stood unrebutted by Tatum.

Ivy Craft had also claimed against Tatum’s shareholder and director Gerardine Isabelle Loggere, a Dutch citizen, for her fraudulent and/or negligent misrepresentation on Tatum’s ability to provide such interior design services as required, representations that Ivy Craft had relied on to its detriment. The judge however did not allow for this claim against Gerardine in her personal capacity as the learned Judge held that the business and representations made by Gerardine were all done on behalf of the Tatum companies of Singapore and Kuala Lumpur.

“Notwithstanding the delays caused to the completion of the property as well as the fact that we are unable to move into the property, Ivy Craft is not seeking any additional damages against Tatum,” said Datin Seri Elena.

Acting for Ivy Craft were James P Monteiro, Vishal V Kumar and Cynthia Lee while Tatum (KL) Sdn Bhd had appeared without counsel after their solicitors had discharged themselves from acting on behalf of Tatum.