Largest Law Firms in Malaysia 2021

We return with the 2021 edition of the largest law firms in Malaysia. You can also read the 2020 edition, the 2019 edition and our inaugural 2018 edition.

Like in previous editions, we refer to the number of lawyers based on the Malaysian Bar legal directory website as at the time of writing. We total up the number of lawyers for the law firm, including its branch offices.

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Ex Parte Appointment of Interim Judicial Manager over Khee San Food Industries

On 19 November 2021, The Edge reported that the candy manufacturer, Khee San Food Industries Sdn Bhd (KSFI), has been placed under interim judicial management. KSFI is the wholly-owned subsidiary of the public-listed Khee San Bhd.

On 17 November 2021, the Court made an ex parte Order to appoint an interim judicial manager, Datuk Adam Primus Varghese Abdullah of Messrs ADAMPRIMUS, over KSFI. The interim judicial management of KSFI  in turn resulted in Khee San Bhd triggering Practice Note 17 (PN17). PN17 is essentially the financial distress criteria set by Bursa Malaysia Securities. KSFI’s assets account for over half of the total assets of Khee San on a consolidated basis.

I believe this is the first time a financial institution creditor has applied to place the debtor company under judicial management. I set out some of the guiding legal principles and the facts of this case.

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Case Update: Not Mandatory for Proposed Judicial Manager’s Affidavit

The High Court in Re Federal Power Sdn Bhd (grounds of judgment dated 11 October 2021) granted a judicial management order over a high voltage cable manufacturing company. The Court dealt with the issue of whether the proposed judicial manager candidate must affirm an affidavit in support of the application or not.

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Case Update: Company Constitution Does Not Extend Indemnity for Directors

The Court of Appeal in Perdana Petroleum Berhad v Tengku Dato’ Ibrahim Petra and others (grounds of judgment dated 15 October 2021) has ruled on a significant company law issue. Whether the company’s constitution alone can give rise to an indemnity by the company in favour of directors or former directors.

This decision will have an impact on company directors, auditors, company secretaries and other officers of the company attempting to rely on the indemnity clause contained in the constitution.

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Malaysia Employment Act amendments: 7 key changes for employers to note

Wide-ranging amendments to Malaysia’s Employment Act 1955 (“the EA”) are now going through Parliament. The Employment (Amendment Bill) 2021 (“the Bill”) was tabled for its first reading on 25 October 2021.

The Explanatory Statement to the Bill states that it seeks to amend the EA “to comply with the international standards and practices as required by the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, the Malaysia-United States Labour Consistency Plan and the International Labour Organization”. It further states that the purpose of the amendments, among others, is “to provide for the protection against discrimination and forced labour, and to provide for maternity benefits”.

As the Bill is only in its first reading, I expect some changes before it is finalised and passed. The current draft of the Bill does appear quite disjointed in parts, and there are some inconsistencies that will need to be cleaned up. It is worth noting that many of the amendments contained in the Bill have been mooted as far back as 2017, so while the fact that the Bill has been tabled is promising, there is no guarantee that it will be passed — though for political reasons it does appear very likely that it will happen this time.

The current draft of the Bill contains comprehensive amendments — there are 46 sections in total — but at this stage I will briefly set out the key changes that employers should take note of, along with some commentary.

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New Employment Act amendments may mean law pupils are entitled to minimum wage

A much-discussed issue in Malaysian legal circles for some time now has been the remuneration of pupils in the legal industry.

Many law graduates are grossly underpaid during their compulsory 9-month pupillage period, with reports of monthly pay as low as RM500. This is well below the current monthly minimum wage in Malaysia, which is RM1,100/1,200. However, pupils fall outside the scope of the Minimum Wages Order, as they are not “employees” under the existing Employment Act (EA).

Proposed amendments to the EA may change this position, and mean that pupils will be entitled to the national minimum wage.

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