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GAR 100 - 10th Edition

Skrine

02 March 2017

Acting for a Malaysian state entity in a US$245 million claim against Shell

People in Who’s Who Legal 1

Founded in 1963 from the ashes of Bannon & Bailey, Skrine was a small outfit that grew into a full-service firm. At around 100 lawyers, it is one of the largest firms in Malaysia.

Vinayak Pradhan – a big name in local arbitration circles – has been practising for almost 40 years. He’s a former president of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and part of the global advisory board for the Kuala Lumpur Regional Centre for Arbitration. A former commissioner for the UN Compensation Commission, he also sits as an arbitrator at ICSID and is a member of the Court of Arbitration for Sport and the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague.

The arbitration group spans some other senior partners, notably Lim Chee Wee (former president of the Malaysian Bar), Ivan Loo (admitted to the English Bar) and Leong Wai Hong (the current head of the firm’s dispute resolution practice and a member of the ICC Malaysia panel of arbitrators).

Who uses it?

The firm represents a number of Japanese and English construction and engineering companies, as well as companies in the energy sector, including Shell, BP, Bains Harding, Standard Elektrik Lorenz and Tipco Asphalt. It has assisted two lignite-mining companies in long-running efforts to enforce a US$57 million award against Laos.

Other well-known clients include Mitsui and Daewoo Engineering.

Track record

The firm bagged a US$20 million win against Glencore for a subsidiary of Tipco Asphalt in 2011 – in a dispute regarding a breach of an oil sale contract.

On behalf of the Polar Electro Group, a manufacturer of heart-rate monitors, it convinced the Malaysian High Court to reject an application to set aside an US$18 million ICC award issued in Singapore. The case confirmed that Malaysia’s 2005 Arbitration Act does not allow Malaysian courts to set aside an arbitral award where the seat of arbitration was outside Malaysia.

Skrine has also obtained and enforced several awards against India on behalf of Scotland-based Cairn Energy. One case, concerning the construction of telecoms towers, clarified the scope of the Malaysian courts’ ability to review KLRCA awards under the country’s 1952 arbitration law.

In three other cases, Skrine acted for Cairn against India on matters arising out of an offshore oil production-sharing contract. Two of the resultant awards have been enforced in Malaysia. The third award – issued in a dispute over the costs of developing an oil field in the Bay of Bengal – was upheld by the Malaysian Court of Appeal in 2014.

Khoo Guan Huat and Ivan Loo are also advising US company Petrocon in another case arising out of the same model production sharing contract, in which the Indian government is seeking to set aside a partial award made in Petrocon’s favour. The government’s set-aside attempts have already been denied once by the High Court, on the grounds it had no jurisdiction to hear the case because the seat of the arbitration had shifted from Kuala Lumpur to London. During May 2016, the Federal Court dismissed the appeal.

Recent events

The firm was instructed by a subsidiary of state-owned Malaysia International Shipping Corporation to file a US$245 million claim against a Shell subsidiary concerning the lease of a platform for one of the country’s biggest offshore oil fields. Ince & Co is acting as co-counsel.

Shannon Rajan and Sharon Chong Tze Ying have both been promoted to partner.

Senior associate Karthini Mahendranathan has been named Malaysia’s representative in the Asia Pacific Forum for International Arbitration.

Client comment

Somchit Sertthin, CEO of Tipco Asphalt, says that Skrine impresses with its creativity, availability and refusal to “compromise on integrity and the highest ethical standards”. The team won two arbitrations for the company with their “far superior and articulate arguments”, he says.

Sertthin singles out Lim Chee Wee for his leadership qualities, noting that he “presented himself in the most professional manner”.