The Federal Court recently dealt with three broad issues under the Construction Industry Payment and Adjudication Act – namely, jurisdictional challenge, the exclusion of defences and the setting aside and staying of decisions. The decision has broad repercussions for the way that adjudications are conducted in Malaysia.
The Federal Court recently examined whether the Bolam test or the test in the Australian case of Rogers v Whitaker with regard to the standard of care in medical negligence should apply, following conflicting decisions by the Malaysian Court of Appeal and legislative changes in Australia. The Federal Court's decision provides a clearer legal position with regard to the distinction between diagnosis and treatment on the one hand and the duty to advise of risks on the other hand.
The Federal Court recently delivered its decision in a dispute involving the Laotian government and two foreign companies. The dispute related to the termination of a project development agreement and was set to be resolved by arbitration. Dissatisfied with the arbitration award, the Laotian government applied to the High Court to set aside the award on the ground that the arbitral tribunal had gone beyond the scope of arbitration.
The prime minister recently proposed that Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan be exempted from the National Cabotage Policy, which governs maritime transport between Peninsular Malaysia and East Malaysia, effective June 1 2017. Under the proposal, foreign ships can transport cargo domestically. This announcement attracted differing opinions regarding its possible impact.
The Federal Court recently examined whether an objection pertaining to the unlawfulness of a notice of appeal could, as a matter of procedural law, be undertaken by way of a mere preliminary objection. Further, the court assessed whether the filing of a single notice of appeal in respect of a decision on eight separate and distinct interlocutory applications complied with the procedural rules set out in the Rules of the Court of Appeal 1994.
The high court recently held that resisting an application for an interlocutory injunction is not a 'step in the proceedings'. The only steps that amount to a step in the proceedings under Section 10 of the Arbitration Act are those taken to advance the substantive dispute in the action. Parties' compliance with court directions will not constitute steps to advance the dispute.
The Federal Court recently held that Sections 2(1)(a) and (b) of the Advocates Ordinance must be read with Section 8. The statutory right given to advocates admitted in Sabah to practise in Sabah by virtue of Section 8(1) of the Advocates Ordinance cannot be taken away by tying the non-exclusive right of barristers and solicitors in England to appear for parties in arbitration proceedings with the practice in Sabah.
The Construction Industry Payment and Adjudication Act 2012 came into effect on April 15 2014. Since then, the Malaysian courts have had the opportunity to consider various aspects of the act on numerous occasions. Some significant decisions have been handed down by the courts in the past two-and-a-half years and although statutory adjudication in Malaysia is still in its infancy, it is evident that a body of local decisions is steadily being built up to assist in the interpretation of the act.
A court recently considered an insurance claim under a marine cargo all-risk insurance policy for damages to a ship unloader crane that had occurred while it was being unloaded onto a barge at West Port, Port Klang. The court ultimately found that the plaintiffs had proven their case on the balance of probability and granted their claim for RM4.5 million, with costs.
The Federal Court recently restated the Malaysian courts' position in respect of their intervention in arbitration. The decision has clarified that once the parties agree to submit to arbitration in the event of disputes and put that agreement into writing, the courts will be less willing to allow one party to subsequently seek to depart from the arbitration agreement without sufficient justification.
In a recent case, the plaintiff opposed the defendant's stay application on the basis that, among other things, the ambit of the arbitration clause was confined to disputes arising before and during the completion of the work. The contract did not provide for disputes after completion of the work to be referred to arbitration. Despite the ambiguous clauses, the court upheld the arbitration clause to give effect to the parties' intentions.
In a recent high court case, the plaintiff's notice of lien stipulated that it had exercised a lien over the bunkers, and that the defendants should pay the plaintiff and not the second intervener. The defendants applied to set aside or strike out the plaintiff's subsequent in rem action, as they had no contractual nexus with the plaintiff for the purchase and supply of the bunkers. The court held that since there was no direct contract between the plaintiff and the defendants, a contractual lien did not arise.
A high court recently granted an order approving the defendant's application to stay the court proceedings and have the dispute referred to arbitration pursuant to the Arbitration Act 2005, finding that the plaintiff had, through its conduct, demonstrated that it intended to refer the dispute to arbitration. This case demonstrates the Malaysian courts continued attempts to give effect to arbitration agreements and to discount attempts to renege on agreements to arbitrate by relying on technical objections.
The Federal Court recently set out the circumstances under which a notice of appeal under Rule 5 of the Rules of the Court of Appeal or a notice of cross-appeal under Rule 8 can be filed. In short, where the respondent wants to reverse or set aside part of a lower-instance finding, decision or judgment which was not appealed in the appellant's notice of appeal, it is incumbent on the respondent to file an independent and separate notice of appeal, rather than a notice of cross-appeal.
The Federal Court recently upheld a Court of Appeal decision which found that a company had failed to identify with sufficient particularity what confidential information its former employee had misused. This case clarifies that despite the existence of confidentiality agreements, companies and employers must prove what confidential information has been misused, as confidentiality agreements are not meant to hinder former employees' ability to compete.
The Federal Court recently ruled in a case involving an arbitration agreement within a production sharing contract. The court held that the term 'venue' was more than a mere reference to the geographical or physical seat and in this respect could be construed as the seat of arbitration. The court also held that the Supreme Court of India's earlier ruling did not bind the parties, as a decision issued by a court without jurisdiction does not give rise to res judicata.
The Court of Appeal recently reviewed a high court decision which had dismissed an application by the first defendant for determination of a preliminary issue. The Court of Appeal had to consider whether the limitation period in the bill of lading, as provided for in the Hague Rules, was contrary to Section 29 of the Contracts Act 1950 and whether an earlier Court of Appeal decision was binding on the high court.
A recent high court decision has set out clear parameters within which an arbitral award can be set aside as a result of an arbitral tribunal acting in excess of its jurisdiction and on the grounds of public policy. The court clarified that an award will be set aside on the basis of public policy only if it causes "actual prejudice" or offends the "fundamental principles of justice and morality".
The Federal Court recently ruled that Order 57 of the Rules of Court 2012 does not confer power to the high courts to transfer proceedings to another high court of coordinate jurisdiction. The true position of the law is that a high court has power to transfer proceedings to another high court of coordinate jurisdiction only within its territorial jurisdiction.
The courts recently dealt with a case involving competing claims for the vessel Safir Kish 4. After hearing extensive arguments over which party had priority over the ship, the court found the registration and transfer of the ship from the shipbuilder to the first defendant to be null and void. As such, the court ordered the ship to be retransferred and reregistered in the shipbuilder's name.