Case Update: Federal Court Decides on Final Payments Claimed in Adjudication

The Federal Court in its grounds of judgment dated 1 August 2019 in Martego Sdn Bhd v Arkitek Meor & Chew Sdn Bhd decided on important points of law on adjudication and final payments under a construction contract. The Federal Court had to decide whether the Construction Industry Payment and Adjudication Act 2012 (CIPAA) could apply. Further, it was also determined whether CIPAA could apply to payment disputes between an architect and client. The grounds of judgment were written by Justice Mohd Zawawi Salleh FCJ.

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Beneficial Ownership of Companies: Out of the Shadows

Recent headlines have carried the news that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission wants to have its own provision on beneficial ownership in the MACC Act 2009 to identify real owners of businesses or properties to further eradicate corruption. This is also against a backdrop of the Panama Papers, and the Paradise Papers.

There is already an existing provision in the Companies Act 2016 (CA 2016) that deals with beneficial ownership. But perhaps, it does not go far enough.

It is important to identify the beneficial owner of a legal entity such as a company, a trust or a partnership. This will ensure tax transparency, and help to fight against tax evasion and financial crimes such as money laundering or terrorism financing. The true controllers of companies will be brought out of the shadows.

I set out some global trends, and I explain the existing Malaysian provision under the Companies Act 2016 (CA 2016) and the possible direction going forward.

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Case Update: Court of Appeal Revives the Issue of Liquidated Ascertained Damages Clause

The Court of Appeal in its grounds of judgment dated 26 July 2019 in Macvilla Sdn Bhd v Mervyn Peter Guan Yin Hui & Another has revived the question of whether there is a need to prove actual loss where there is a liquidated ascertained damages clause.

The earlier Federal Court decision in Cubic Electronics had concluded that for liquidated damages clause, proof of actual loss is not mandatory. The onus was on the defaulting party to show that the liquidated ascertained damages clause was unreasonable.

In Macvilla, the Court of Appeal now sets out the method of interpreting section 75 of the Contracts Act 1950 in applying the liquidated ascertained damages clause. Continue reading

Seven Key Changes of the Companies Amendment Bill 2019

The Companies Amendment Bill 2019 was tabled for First Reading before the Dewan Rakyat (i.e. the House of Representatives) on 8 July 2019.The amendment Bill was passed by the Dewan Rakyat on 10 July 2019 and by the Dewan Negara (i.e. the Senate) on 31 July 2019.

The amendment Bill will make amendments to the Companies Act 2016 (CA 2016). I have since updated this article to take into account the Parliamentary debate of the amendment Bill.

I highlight seven of the more significant amendments. There will be welcome clarification of the effect of section 66 on the execution of what sort of documents, as well as the redemption of preference shares out of capital. But I can see issues relating to the appointment of receivers or receivers and managers after liquidation. There is a severe dilution of the ability to apply for judicial management.

#1: Section 66 to Only to Apply to Specific Types of Documents

I had earlier written about the possible uncertainty of validity of signed documents under section 66 of the CA 2016. Would all documents executed on behalf of the company require at least one director to sign that document? Under the CA 2016, the term document meant a document referred to under the Evidence Act. Continue reading

Federal Court Grants Anti-Arbitration Injunction to a Non-Party to the Arbitration

The Federal Court in its grounds of judgment dated 1 July 2019 reinstated the injunction of a non-party to an arbitration. The anti-arbitration injunction was made against the parties to an ongoing arbitration to restrain them from proceeding and continuing with the arbitration proceedings, pending the parallel Court proceedings.

The Federal Court ruled on the questions of law that sections 8 and 10 of the Arbitration Act 2005 (AA 2005) would not apply to a party litigant who is not a party to the arbitration agreement and/or arbitration proceedings. Section 8 of the AA 2005 essentially states that no court shall intervene in matters governed by the AA 2005. Section 10 of the AA 2005 allows for the court to stay court proceedings and refer parties to arbitration.

In this decision, the Federal Court allowed a non-party to the arbitration to resort to the Court’s inherent jurisdiction to grant an anti-arbitration injunction to restrain the arbitrating parties from proceeding with the arbitration. The test to be applied is the American Cyanamid-like test of a serious issue to be tried (or as applied in Malaysia via the Keet Gerald Francis test) instead of a higher threshold in the English High Court decision in J Jarvis v Blue Circle Dartfort Estates [2007[ EWHC 1262 (TCC).

Where there are parallel court proceedings involving some parties in an arbitration and non-parties to an arbitration, this Federal Court decision appears to favour giving primacy to the court proceedings and to allow an injunction or stay of the arbitration proceedings. Continue reading