Restraining Order under a Scheme of Arrangement Must Satisfy Pre-Conditions from the Start

An applicant must meet the statutory pre-conditions for the grant of a moratorium (otherwise known as a restraining order) under Malaysia’s scheme of arrangement even at the initial application stage. This was decided in a recent High Court decision dated 22 April 2019. The Court set aside the initial grant of the restraining order as the applicant companies had not satisfied the pre-conditions at the time of the application.

To my knowledge, this is also the first decision on this issue under the new section 368(2) of the Companies Act 2016 (CA 2016). There have been conflicting High Court decisions on this issue when interpreting the predecessor section 176(10A) of the Companies Act 1965 (CA 1965). The full grounds of judgment have not been issued yet.

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Case Update: Court of Appeal Rules on Removal and Remuneration of Liquidator

The Court of Appeal issued its Grounds of Judgment dated 11 December 2018 in the case of Ong Kwong Yew and others v Ong Ching Chee and others. It is a cautionary tale for liquidators on the grounds for their removal as liquidator and their conduct in terms of seeking fees for work done.

The conduct of the liquidator was serious enough for the Court of Appeal to remark that the liquidator ought to be sanctioned by the Malaysian Institute of Accountants or the Director-General of Insolvency.

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Case Update: Passing of a Members’ Written Resolution under the Companies Act 2016 with “More than Half of Such Members”

The High Court in the case of  Mohamed Zain Yon Bin Mohamed Fuad v Jason Jonathan Lo & Ors issued its Grounds of Judgment dated 6 March 2019. The case clarifies the interpretation of the new members’ written resolution provision of the Companies Act 2016 (CA 2016). More than half the number of shareholding of the members is required to pass the members’ written resolution. It is not more than half the number of the shareholders. Further, the case also emphasised how the CA 2016 applies even to companies which still retain the Table A Articles of Association under the Companies Act 1965 (CA 1965).

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Case Update: Federal Court Decides that Retention Sum in a Construction Contract is Not Held on Trust

The Federal Court in the Pembinaan Legenda case has decided on significant areas of law on whether retention sum monies under a construction contract are held on trust. There was uncertainty in light of two conflicting Court of Appeal decisions in Qimonda and Pembinaan Legenda.

In its grounds of judgment dated 13 March 2019, the Federal Court has held that there is no implication at law of retention sum monies being held on trust. The creation of a trust depends on the construction of the contractual terms and also the separation of the monies into a trust account. Continue reading

Case Update: Insufficient justification and improper handling of Voluntary Separation Scheme may give rise to unfair dismissal

In this Case Update series, I share summaries of recent Malaysian court decisions to explore the current approach taken by the courts when deciding on employment-related issues. You can find all the posts in the series by clicking here, including case updates on other legal areas by TheMalaysianLawyer co-founder Lee Shih.

Retrenchments are an ever-present issue in the Malaysian industrial relations landscape. The Malaysian Employers Federation has forecast that 30,000 employees will be laid-off this year. The proper handling of retrenchments is a constant challenge for employers, and disputes often arise. The Ministry of Human Resources recently announced that terminations due to retrenchment were the most common reason for unfair dismissal cases received by the Industrial Relations Department over the past 10 years, accounting for 30% of all cases.

Many employers make the mistake of assuming that implementing a retrenchment exercise is a straightforward way of getting rid of unwanted employees, or downsizing the workforce to cut costs. I’ve written about some of the legal issues related to retrenchment in two earlier articles:

  1. In “What you need to know about the law on retrenchment of employees”, I summarised the key Malaysian legal principles in relation to retrenchments. Essentially, it is the prerogative of the management to decide on the reorganisation of its business, and the courts will not intervene unless it is shown that the employer’s decision was not in good faith.
  2. In an earlier article in this Case Update series — “Case Update: Relevant issues when an employer uses financial difficulties as a reason for retrenchment” — I wrote about a case where the Industrial Court held that an employer relying on financial difficulties to justify retrenchment had to prove it was experiencing financial difficulties, and to show the financial savings it made through the retrenchment.

In the recent case of Suseela Devi Balakrishnan v. Inti International College Kuala Lumpur Sdn Bhd (Award No. 343 of 2019), the Industrial Court considered a scenario where the employment relationship ended based on a voluntary separation scheme (“VSS”) arising from a redundancy scenario, and the employee subsequently claimed that she was dismissed without just cause and excuse.

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