Case Update: Federal Court Decides Sums due to Management Corporation are Unsecured Debts

The Federal Court in its grounds of judgment dated 21 May 2020 Dubon Berhad (in liquidation) v Wisma Cosway Management Corporation held that fees due to a management corporation or a joint management body under the Strata Management Act is not a secured debt. Such fees are a pure unsecured debt within the insolvency regime. This will bring clarity for a liquidator of a company which is an owner of a strata property.

Continue reading

Retrenchments in Malaysia — some recent cases

COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on jobs around the world. Almost every country has experienced an economic downturn, and as businesses struggle to steady the ship and stay afloat, many employers have been doing their best to retain their employees where possible. It has been a very busy 2020 for employment lawyers and HR professionals.

Unfortunately, for employers in many industries, COVID-19 has negatively affected their revenues too significantly, and cutting jobs has become the only solution to keep the businesses going. This has also been the case in Malaysia, where the Movement Control Order crippled many businesses, and the government has been unable to provide meaningful assistance to employers. For example, the aid provided under the Prihatin wage subsidy program is very low and short-term compared to other countries, and comes with conditions attached that make it impractical for many employers.

As a result, there have already been many retrenchments carried out in Malaysia, with even more to come. Indicative of the times, in the past couple of months, we have suddenly seen a significant amount of traffic on an old article I published here in January 2016 — “What you need to know about the law on retrenchment of employees”.

But retrenchments can be tricky. Over the years I’ve seen many employers make mistakes that result in unfair dismissal claims, a messy and costly court process, and sometimes very big court awards to be paid to former employees. Often, these mistakes are made even by employers who have done their research on the law, and sometimes even by those who have obtained legal advice (which ultimately turned out to be incomplete or flawed).

Knowing how to properly carry out a retrenchment exercise — and knowing what practical mistakes and missteps to avoid — comes with experience. It also helps greatly to analyse how other businesses have implemented retrenchments (both properly and improperly), and so in this article I set out very brief summaries of a selection of retrenchment-related decisions by the Industrial Court in the past year.

Continue reading

Company Law Case Update: Tiger Synergy and the Statutory Right to Hold Shareholder Meetings

The High Court issued its grounds of judgment in Safari Alliance Sdn Bhd v Tiger Synergy Berhad (Grounds of Judgment dated 1 March 2020).

The case dealt with the statutory right of a shareholder under section 310(b) of the Companies Act 2016 (CA 2016) to hold a general meeting of the company. This right is especially significant here since the general meeting was to replace the directors of the public-listed company, Tiger Synergy Berhad.

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

Company Law Case Update: Oppression Issues on Beneficial Shareholders and a Shareholders Agreement

The High Court decision in Gue See Sew & 2 others v Heng Tang Hai & 2 others (see the Grounds of Judgment dated 2 January 2020 and at Gue See Sew & Ors v Heng Tang Hai & Ors [2020] MLJU 46) deals with important legal issues on whether a beneficial owner of shares can initiate an oppression action and whether breaches of a shareholders’ agreement can be grounds for oppression.

Continue reading

Case Update: Federal Court Decides on Issue of Leave to Sue Liquidator Personally

I set out a case update on the Federal Court decision of Tee Siew Kai v Machang Indah Development Sdn Bhd (see the Grounds of Judgment dated 17 February 2020). The decision is on the law applicable to the grant of leave to sue a liquidator in his personal capacity. This decision reverses the Court of Appeal decision in Tee Siew Kai (as liquidator for Merger Acceptance Sdn Bhd) (in liquidation) v Machang Indah Development Sdn Bhd (in liquidation) (previously known as Rakyat Corp Sdn Bhd [2019] 2 MLJ 514.

This decision reiterates the importance of leave of the Court in order to avoid wasteful litigation against liquidators and to preclude unwarranted interference with the winding up process. There must be a prima facie case made out, the Court must evaluate the evidence to see if this has been met, and pecuniary loss suffered by the company must be shown. Continue reading