You Want to be a Commercial Litigator? Here are 10 Tips

Recently, a young lawyer asked me for advice on how to generally switch practice areas to move into litigation. From my brief advice, I thought it would be useful to set out and expand on my tips. I write this especially from the lens of a commercial litigator.

These tips are shaped by my personal experience. Please feel free to suggest more tips in the comments section and where we can learn from other lawyers’ experiences.

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Top 5 Arbitration Cases in Malaysia for 2020

We end off our top 5 cases series for 2020 with the top 5 arbitration cases in Malaysia for 2020. I had written about last year’s top 5 arbitration cases for 2019.

This year’s cases range from anti-arbitration injunctions, what amounts to a breach of natural justice for setting aside an arbitral award, adhering to the time limit for the issuance of an award, to the arbitrability of a dispute on the register of transfer of shares. Continue reading

Malaysia’s New Attorney General (Idrus Harun): His Top 3 Cases as a Federal Court Judge

[This is a guest post by Kwan Will Sen. He is a litigation partner focusing on commercial litigation and arbitration, and fraud and asset recovery.]

Idrus Harun was a Judge of the apex Court of Malaysia, the Federal Court. He has been appointed as the Attorney General (AG) effective 6 March 2020, replacing Tommy Thomas.

I discuss three significant decisions by Idrus Harun FCJ (as he then was). He wrote the Federal Court’s grounds of judgment for the first two cases (Ireka/ Jack-In Pile and Nautical Supreme), and was part of the minority for the third case (JRI Resources). Continue reading

Top 5 Arbitration Cases in Malaysia for 2019

This is the final part of the trilogy on top 5 company law cases, restructuring and insolvency cases, and arbitration cases in Malaysia for 2019.

This feature covers the range from an anti-arbitration injunction, stay of winding up proceedings pending arbitration to a setting aside of an interim measure in aid of arbitration. The cases below will refer to the Arbitration Act 2005 (AA 2005).

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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 in Jaya Sudhir a/l Jayaram v Nautical Supreme Sdn Bhd & Ors reinstated an anti-arbitration injunction in favour 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

Winding Up vs Arbitration: No to Stay but Court has Discretion to Dismiss the Winding Up

The Malaysian Courts continue to tackle the issue of the effect of an arbitration agreement on the litigant’s ability to present a winding up petition based on a debt. This is in the context of a purported debt arising from a contract containing the arbitration clause. There have been conflicting High Court decisions on this point, especially on the issue of whether the Court can stay the winding up pursuant to section 10 of the Arbitration Act 2005 (AA 2005).

The recent High Court decision in Awangsa Bina Sdn Bhd v Mayland Avenue Sdn Bhd (Grounds of Judgment dated 2 May 2019) decided that it would not stay the winding up proceedings under the AA 2005. Nonetheless, the Court agreed with the authorities from the UK, Singapore and Hong Kong to apply the test of whether there is a prima facie dispute of the debt. Since there was, the winding up petition was dismissed. The decision provides a useful summary of the cases in Malaysia and other jurisdictions. Continue reading