June Ongwrites this update on the Malaysian High Court decision applying the “full merits” test in determining the existence of an arbitration agreement.
The High Court in Lysaght Corrugated Pipe Sdn Bhd and Anor v Popeye Resources Sdn Bhd and Anor(Kuala Lumpur High Court Civil Suit No.: WA-22NCC-109-03/2021) (grounds of judgment dated 10 February 2022) set out the requirements for a stay of proceedings pending arbitration under section 10 of the Arbitration Act 2005. This is in particular when evaluating the existence of an arbitration agreement. Further, in dismissing the stay, the Court granted an anti-arbitration injunction to restrain a Hong Kong arbitration.
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.
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 →
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 →
In an earlier article ‘Arbitration and Liquidation: Never the Twain Shall Meet?‘, I had examined the possible tension between the contractual bargain to arbitration and the statutory right to bring winding up proceedings based on a debt. Would an arbitration agreement trump the statutory winding up process?
The recent High Court decision in NFC Labuan Shipleasing I Ltd v Semua Chemical Shipping Sdn Bhd  MLJU 900;  1 LNS 943 found that there cannot be a stay under the Arbitration Act 2005 (AA 2005) of a winding up petition. A winding up petition is not a claim for payment. It is a class action in the public interest as part of a statutory regime. Therefore, it was held that a winding up petition is not a ‘proceeding’ that is susceptible to a stay pending arbitration. Further, a winding up petition does not concern a matter that is subject to an arbitration agreement. Continue reading →
In the Court of Appeal’s grounds of judgment dated 10 August 2017 of Gan Bee San v Malayan Banking Berhad, the Court of Appeal allowed an appeal and set aside a winding up order. The decision confirms the growing list of appellate authorities where the Court has the inherent jurisdiction to set aside a winding up order. The brief facts are below.