Land Acquisition 101 – What are the process of Land Acquisition?

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Private landowners have the constitutional right to enjoy the use of their lands without any hindrance, with exceptions of course. In this article, we will look into the intricacies and the recourse for private landowners in case of land acquisition.

What is Land Acquisition?

Land acquisition is a process whereby a state authority or the government acquires the land of a private owner. We will look further into this article for the purposes of land acquisition. While the Federal Constitution guarantees the right to ownership of private lands1, two exceptions were also laid down in the Federal Constitution. The exception state that, private lands can be acquired if:

  1. Such deprivation is done in accordance with law2; or
  2. A private landowner is adequately compensated for the compulsory acquisition of the land3.

The Land Acquisition Act 1960 (‘the Act) and the Land Acquisition Rules 2017 govern the compulsory acquisition of privately own land.

The Land Acquisition Process

Please see the Land Acquisition Rules 2017 for applicable land acquisition Forms.

Steps

Process

1.

State authority makes an application through Form 14. The purpose of the acquisition must be for5:

  1. public purposes;
  2. economic development which is beneficial to the public or a specific class of the public; or
  3. Mining/ residential/ agricultural/ commercial/ industrial/ recreational/ any combination of the purposes mentioned.

2.

Publish a notice of intention to acquire the land in Government Gazette in Form A6. Must also give notice to the public of the publication in the Government Gazette in a manner prescribed7 in the Act8.

3.

State Director notify and authorizes the land to be entered and surveyed in Form B9.

4.

The land administrator prepares a plan and list of lands to be acquired. Then, they will submit it to the State Authority in Form C10.

5.

State Authority will then decide which land is to be acquired before proceeding with making a declaration and publishing it in Government Gazette in Form D11.

6.

Land Administrator marks out the land intended for acquisition and registers it under any relevant document of title12.

7.

Land Administrator gives notice to public13, occupier, registered proprietor, any person who has registered interest or any person whom the Land Administrator believes to have interest in the land14 in Form E in a manner prescribed under the Act15. Then, the Land Administrator will fixes date to hear the claims for compensation.  Land Administrator can also ask parties who has an interest in the land to submit evidence of their interest in Form F16.

8.

An inquiry will be done by the Land Administrator to value and assess the amount of compensation to be awarded17. Upon completion of the inquiry, a written award will be prepared in Form G18.

9.

The Land Administrator will then serve the written award to any person who has an interest in the land via Form H19.

10.

In urgent cases subject to provisions under the Act20, the State Authority can acquire the land by giving notice via Form I before the compensation is awarded21. A notice will then be given via Form J22 to the occupants or owners of the land to vacate the land.

11.

Once a written award is served, the Land Administrator will then take possession of the land by serving notice upon the occupier of the land via Form K23.

12.

The Land Administrator will also serve notice via Form L to demand the holder of the document of title of the land to be delivered to him24.

Factors In Determining Compensation

Factors considered in determining compensation25

Factors not considered in determining compensation26

  • The market value of the land27;
  • Any change in the value of other lands the owner has as a result of the acquisition;
  • Any damage or negative effect sustained by the owner and/or his other lands as a result of the acquisition;
  • Expenses incurred in increasing the land value; and
  • Work done on a portion of the acquired land which benefits its adjacent unacquired lands.
  • The time frame of the land acquisition process;
  • The keenness of the parties to part with the land;
  • Any damage to the land caused by strangers to the land acquisition process;
  • Any depreciation/increase in land value post-acquisition; and
  • Any improvements to the land acquired unless such improvement is necessary for the maintenance of the buildings on the land.

Available remedies if landowners are dissatisfied with the compensation awarded

If a landowner is dissatisfied with the compensation awarded, the landowner has 6 weeks from the time the award was made28 to submit a claim via Form N29 to the Land Administrator. The Land Administrator will then refer the matter to the High Court via Form O30 for determination. The court will then proceed to appoint two assessors, one from the list submitted by the state authority and the other from the list submitted by the land owner31. The court will then determine the amount of compensation based on the assessor’s opinion32. If there are two conflicting opinions, the court will choose one of the opinions and award accordingly33.

However, the landowner needs to bear in mind that the High Court is the final recourse on grounds of compensation for the land acquired34. This ground cannot be pursued further even if the landowner is unsatisfied with the final compensation awarded by the High Court. 

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1. Article 13 (1) of the Federal Constitution.
2. Ibid.
3. Article 13 (2) of the Federal Constitution.
4. First Schedule, Land Acquisition Rules 2017, https://www.aseanlip.com/dp.aspx?src=https://www.aseanlip.com/assets/uploads/aseanlip-33126-pua-372.pdf&id=33591.
5. Section 3 (1)(a) – (c), Land Acquisition Act 1960.
6. Section 4 (1), Ibid.
7. Section 52, Ibid.
8. Section 4 (2), Ibid.
9. Section 5, Ibid.
10. Section 7, Ibid.
11. Section 8, Ibid.
12. Section 9, Ibid.
13. Section 10, Ibid.
14. Section 11 (1), Land Acquisition Act 1960.
15. Section 52, Ibid.
16. Section 11 (2), Ibid.
17. Section 12, Ibid.
18. Section 14, Ibid.
19. Section 16, Ibid.
20. Section 20, Ibid.
21. Section 19, Ibid.
22. Section 20, Ibid.
23. Section 22, Ibid.
24. Section 24, Ibid.
25. Schedule 1 Section 2, Land Acquisition Act 1960.
26. Schedule 1 Section 3, Ibid.
27. Schedule 1 Section 1, Ibid.
28. Section 38 (3)(a), Ibid.
29. Section 38 (1), Ibid.
30. Section 38 (5), Ibid.
31. Section 40A (3), Ibid.
32. Section 40D (1), Ibid.
33. Section 40D (2), Ibid.
34. Section 40D (3) and Section 49 (1), Land Acquisition Act 1960. Also, see Calamas Sdn Bhd v Pentadbir Tanah Batang Padang [2018] supp MLJ 256.


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