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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Proposed Requirements for Fly-In-Fly-Out Foreign Lawyers in Malaysia

In January 2019, the Bar Council of Malaysia submitted to the Attorney General the proposed reforms to the Legal Profession Act (LPA). One area that will be amended will be the provisions involving foreign lawyers and foreign law firms entering Malaysia to advise clients. I have written about Malaysia’s liberalisation of legal services previously.

The UK Law Gazette highlighted some concerns of further restrictions on foreign lawyers being able to enter Malaysia to advise on non-Malaysian law aspects. I clarify this area of proposed reform under Malaysian law. Continue reading

Practising Certificate for Company Secretaries and the Duties of Company Secretaries

Section 241 of the Companies Act 2016 (CA 2016) has come into force today on 15 March 2019 (see P.U.(B) 138/2019). This is the last provision of the CA 2016 to be brought into force. Under this section, all qualified persons who wish to act as a company secretary must register with the Registrar of Companies.

With the coming into force of section 241, the Companies (Practising Certificate for Secretaries) Regulations 2019 and Guidelines Relating to Practising Certificate for Secretaries Under Section 241 of the Companies Act 2016 have also come into force on 15 March 2019. There is also a FAQ section on the Companies Commission of Malaysia website. Continue reading

Case Update: One Day Late, Adjudication Decision Void

The recent High Court decision Skyworld Development Sdn Bhd v Zalam Corporation Sdn Bhd (see the grounds of judgment dated 8 February 2019) stresses the critical importance of the statutory timelines under the Construction Industry Payment and Adjudication Act 2012 (CIPAA). This is more so when the adjudication papers can be served electronically.

In this case, the Adjudicator had issued his Adjudication Decision one day out of time and this rendered the decision void.

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Case Update: Creditor can Issue a Winding Up Notice based on a Mere Adjudication Decision

The Court of Appeal in Likas Bay Precinct Sdn Bhd v Bina Puri Sdn Bhd [2019] MLJU 49 has decided that a petitioner can issue a statutory demand for winding up based on a mere adjudication decision. There is no requirement to first enforce the adjudication decision as a court judgment before issuing such a winding up notice.

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