Ramai yang tertanya-tanya apakah maksud perbicaraan mengikut Aturan 14A yang akan dilalui bagi kes tuntutan Royalti Kelantan.
Aturan 14A ini telah diperkenalkan melalui pindaan yang dibuat ke atas Kaedah-Kaedah Mahkamah Tinggi 1980 pada tahun 2000 melalui pindaan PU (A) 342/2000. Tujuan kewujudan Aturan 14A ini adalah jelas iaitu untuk mempercepatkan proses pelupusan kes (pada peringkat Interlokutori lagi) demi untuk menjimatkan masa dan kos Mahkamah.
Ini jelas dinyatakan oleh Yang Arif Hakim Mohd Noor Ahmad di dalam Penghakiman beliau semasa memutuskan kes Petroleum Nasional Bhd v Kerajaan Negeri Terengganu  1 MLJ 8 di Mahkamah Rayuan. Di dalam kes tersebut, beliau menyatakan dengan jelas bahawa:
"  We have to consider the scope and efficacy of O 14A. The order was introduced into the RHC by PU(A) 342/2000. Its purpose is to expedite the disposal of an action at interlocutory stage in order to save costs and time. It was adopted from the English equivalent with some modifications. Our O 14A reads:
(1) The court may upon the application of a party or of its own motion determine any question of law or construction of any document arising in any cause or matter at any stage of the proceedings where it appears to the court that —
(a) Such question is suitable for determination without the full trial of the action; and
(b) Such determination will finally determine the entire cause or matter or any claim or issue therein.
(2) Upon such determination the court may dismiss the cause or matter or make such order or judgment as it thinks just.
(3) The court shall not determine any question under this order unless the parties have had an opportunity of being heard on the question.
(4) The jurisdiction of the court under this order may be exercised by a registrar.
(5) Nothing in this order shall limit the powers of the court under O 18 r19, or any other provision of these rules."
Diputuskan di dalam kes Bato Bagi & ors v Government State of Sarawak  5 MLJ 587 bahawa:
" The scope of this rule under the English Supreme Court Rules (O 14A) which is in pari materia with our own O 14A was discussed and expounded by the English Court of Appeal in the leading case of Korso Finance Establishment Anstalt v John Wedge [Unreported, February 15,1994, CA Transcript No 94/387]. The principles enunciated in that case on the application and scope of the rule was approved and followed by our own Court of Appeal in Petroleum Nasional Bhd v Kerajaan Negeri Terengganu  1 MLJ 8. In the Petroleum Nasional Bhd's case, the Court of Appeal also referred to a number of Singapore cases which also applied the principles on O 14A as enunciated in the Korso Finance's case, and said that it was inclined to follow those decisions in its interpretation of the scope of O 14A of the RHC. If I understand the Petroleum Nasional Bhd's case, correctly, the Court of Appeal held that when faced with an application under O 14A, the court must decide what is the threshold issues in the case that require determination; and if the threshold issues are capable of being determined under the rule its determination would be and should be decisive of the whole litigation or essentially the main part of the suit. That it said would result in a substantial saving of time and costs as it would significantly cut down the costs and time involved in pre-trial preparation or in connection with the trial proper. It was held in that case that 'even if the case appeared to or was complicated, it did not mean that the court must shun away from considering the applicability of O 14A and O 33 r 2 of the RHC in relation to the questions of law which were clear and definite'. However at this juncture is worthwhile to bear in mind the words of caution by Sir Thomas Bingham MR in E (a Minor) v Dorset CC  2 AC 633 HL, which were quoted in The Supreme Court Practice (1997), Vol 1, Part 1, London, Sweet & Maxwell at p 185 as follows:
But applications of this kind are fought on ground of a Plaintiff's choosing, since he may be generally assumed to plead his best case ... [If] the legal viability of a cause of action is unclear (perhaps because the law is in a transition), or in any way sensitive to the facts, an order to strike out should not be made. But if, after argument, the court can be properly persuaded that no matter what (within the reasonable bounds of the pleading) the actual facts [are] the claim is bound to fail for want of a cause of action, I see no reason why the parties should be required to prolong the proceedings before that decision is reached."
Berdasarkan kepada Aturan 14A tersebut, ianya jelas menunjukkan bahawa Penggunaan 14A tersebut adalah bertujuan untuk penyelesaian penuh bagi sesuatu kes tersebut jika kes tersebut dapat diselesaikan dan diputuskan hanya berdasarkan kepada intepretasi sesuatu undang-undang atau kontruksi sesuatu dokumen yang tidak memerlukan kepada bukti-bukti lain (extrinsic evidences) dan juga bukti secara lisan (oral evidence). Ini bermaksud secara ringkasnya ialah, tiada saksi akan dipanggil untuk memberikan keterangan lisan bagi tujuan perbicaraan kes tersebut. semuanya akan diputuskan berdasarkan dokumen yang ada dihadapan Mahkamah sahaja.
Namun begitu, sebelum Mahkamah menggunapakai Aturan 14A tersebut untuk tujuan Pelupusan sesuatu kes, terdapat garis panduan yang perlu diikuti yang mana garis panduan tersebut telah diputuskan oleh kes-kes duluan (precedent).
Antara asas penting yang menjadi syarat utama sebelum Mahkamah boleh mengguna pakai Aturan 14A di dalam menyelesaikan sesuatu kes ialah kedua-dua pihak tidak mempunyai sebarang pertikaian berhubung fakta kes, atau di mana mahkamah, setelah meneliti pliding, memutuskan bahawa fakta-fakta penting tidak dipertikaikan.
Makanya, suatu Permohonan di bawah A 14A ini adalah untuk memutuskan peruntukan undang-undang yang jelas atau interpretasi kepada sesebuah konstruksi dokumen yang tiada pertikaian lain selain kandungan dokumen tersebut.
Prinsip undang-undang ini jelas dinyatakan di dalam Yang Arif Hakim Ramli Ali (JCA) semasa memutuskan kes Low Chee & Sons Sdn Bhd & Anor v Extreme System Sdn Bhd and another appeal  1 MLJ 650 di Mahkamah Rayuan:
"  We are in agreement with learned counsel for the respondent, that based on the facts and circumstances of the present case O 14A application is not\ suitable on the following grounds:
(a) For an O 14A to be invoked, all material facts relating to the subject matter in the claim must be undisputed or admitted. The court should not give a ruling under O 14A in vacuo or based on hypothetical facts which can only be determined at full trial. The crux of the plaintiff ’s claim is that the defendants acted in concert to take over Ho Hup in breach of theTake-Over Code and the Securities Commission Act. These factual allegations in the amended statement of claim are vehemently denied by the defendants. Order 14A procedure cannot be invoked on the basis of assumed facts (as what has been done by the learned judicial commissioner). The O 14A procedure is not appropriate where there are conflicting allegations of fact (see: Cycle Links Co Ltd v Chevalier Construction (Hong Kong) Ltd  HKCU 400; Petroleum Nasional Bhd v Kerajaan Negeri Terengganu  1 MLJ 8; Seloga Jaya Sdn Bhd v UEM Gynisys Sdn Bhd  7 MLJ 385 and William Singam a/l Raja Singam (suing as the Public Officer of Pertubuhan Kristian Thareethin Kudaram, Ipoh Perak) v Meeriam Rosaline a/p Edward Paul & Ors  7 MLJ 888);
(b) The above authorities clearly indicate that there was no question of ‘assuming all the facts were true for the purpose of an O14A application’. The learned judicial commissioner should not have made a determination under O 14A based on assumed or hypothetical facts;
(c) the O 14A procedure in the present case does not dispose of a substantial part of the action and therefore there will not be any saving in costs and time. The learned judicial commissioner in his grounds of judgment accepted this principle. There will be no such saving as the same evidence will be led with respect to the remaining causes of action; and
(d) the O14A application is to determine whether a breach of the Take-Over Code and the Securities Commission Act will give rise to an actionable breach of statutory duty for damages; but the relief sought in the plaintiff ’s claims includes a mandatory order to compel the defendants to make a mandatory general offer and for damages for failing to make the general offer. The other causes of action are the claims for collateral purposes and for conspiracy. Both these claims are still good and would entail leading at trial, the same evidence showing the breaches of the Code and the Act, even if the determination of the O 14A is in favour of the respondent."
Prinsip Undang-undang ini turut dinyatakan dengan jelas oleh Yang Amat Arif Hakim Zulkefli Ahmad Makinuddin (sekarang merupakan Hakim Besar Malaya) sewaktu memutuskan kes Dream Property Sdn Bhd v Atlas Housing Sdn Bhd  2 MLJ 812 di Mahkamah Rayuan pada waktu itu. Beliau menyatakan bahawa:
"  I am also of the view that O 14A of the RHC is not a vehicle for which the court is required to interpret the statement of claim to decide what point of law arises before deciding on it. An application under O 14A of the RHC is to decide clear points of law or construction that are apparent on the pleadings. It is to be noted in this case the learned judicial commissioner proceeded to hear the plaintiff ’s O 14A application without the benefit of the defendant’s defence which had yet to be filed at that time of the hearing of the application. Instead, the learned judicial commissioner thought it fit to choose to only confine himself to the averments made by the plaintiff in its statement of claim. The learned judicial commissioner has failed to sufficiently identify the relevant issues arising from the action, which necessarily ought to include the defendant’s defence to the action. Therefore, the learned judicial commissioner was not in any position to make the said order that he did, ie, that the plaintiff ’s action against the defendant was suitable for determination under O 14A of the RHC. On this point I would like to refer to the case of Watson & Anor v Dutton Forshaw Motor Group Ltd & Ors EWCA, 22 July1998 wherein the Court of Appeal therein stated, inter alia, as follows:
With the benefit of hindsight it is possible to see that this is where things began to go wrong. In fact the particulars would not be relevant to the O 14A application either so far as the plaintiffs were concerned or so far as the defendants were concerned. The issue of law, if it was discernible at all, had to be discernible from the statement of claim and the defence. The judge himself ruled at the outset of the hearing of the O 14A application on 17 October 1994 that he should not adjourn that hearing as he was requested to do by the plaintiffs’ counsel on the basis that particulars were about to be delivered ‘since it is not the function of particulars to take the place of necessary averments in the pleading’.
 It is trite law that, for the court to exercise its power to summarily dispose off an action under O 14A of the RHC, there should not be any dispute by the parties as to the relevant facts, or that the court, upon scrutinising the pleadings, concludes that the material facts are not in dispute. (see the case of Petroleum Nasional Bhd v Kerajaan Negeri Terengganu)."
Prinsip undang-undang ini juga turut diterangkan secara panjang lebar oleh Yang Arif Hakim Azahar Mohd sewaktu memutuskan kes BP Malaysia Sdn Bhd v Zabedah bte Mohamed & Ors  8 MLJ 384 yang beliau menyatakan bahawa:
"  It may be added that in an application under O 14A, the question of law or construction should be in clear and precise terms. All parties concerned must make every effort to come to an agreement on all the necessary and material facts relevant to the question of law or construction of documents that the court is required to determine. In an application under O 14A there is no room for any dispute between the parties as to the requisite material facts. The important point to note here is that in the present case all the necessary and material facts relating to the subject matter of the question had not been duly proved or admitted by the parties concerned."
Secara peribadi saya tidaklah berpendapat bahawa kes tuntutan royalti Kelantan boleh diputuskan melalui cara ini kerana terdapat saksi-saksi yang boleh didengar oleh mahkamah untuk menentukan niat pihak-pihak ketika perjanjian tersebut ditandatangani. Apatah lagi individu-individu berkenaan masih hidup hingga ke hari ini kecuali Al-Marhum MB Kelantan semasa itu yang telah meninggal dunia.
Akan tetapi Mahkamah telahpun membuat keputusannya dan wajarlah pihak-pihak menghormati pendirian mahkamah tersebut dan meneruskan perjuangan tuntutan royalti ini mengikut saluran perundangan yang masih ada.
Hisham bin Fauzi
Pertubuhan Pengamal Undang-undang & Hak Asasi Manusia Malaysia Cawangan Negeri Kelantan