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GAR 100 - 11th Edition

Skrine

04 April 2018

Taking on Shell over a billion-dollar oil platform

People in Who’s Who Legal 1
Pending cases as counsel 2
Value of pending counsel work US$1.7 billion
Treaty cases 0
Current arbitrator appointments 15 (of which 6 are as sole or chair)
Lawyers sitting as arbitrator 4

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 member of the UN Compensation Commission, he 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 (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 numerous Japanese and English construction and engineering companies, as well as companies in the energy sector. Important clients include Shell, BP, Bains Harding, Standard Elektrik Lorenz and Tipco Asphalt.

Track record

Skrine bagged a US$20 million win against Glencore for a subsidiary of Tipco Asphalt a few years back 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 firm 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.

Skrine acted for Cairn in three other cases against India on matters arising out of an offshore oil production-sharing contract. Two of the resulting awards have been enforced in Malaysia. The third – 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.

Partners 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 Federal Court dismissed the appeal in 2016.

Recent events

Together with Ince & Co, Skrine is acting for Malaysia’s state-owned shipping corporation MISC in a billion-dollar dispute with a subsidiary of Shell over a semi-floating production system for one of the country’s largest offshore oil fields. The case is playing out before the Kuala Lumpur Regional Centre for Arbitration, as well as in adjudication proceedings and litigation.

The firm had a disappointing result in its eight-year battle to enforce a US$57 million UNCITRAL award against Laos, with Malaysia’s highest court upholding a decision to set aside the award in favour of clients Thai-Lao Lignite and Hongsa Lignite, two mining companies controlled by Thai businessman Siva Nganthavee.

Away from his counsel work, Vinayak Pradhan was appointed by Philippine state entity Northrail to sit as arbitrator in a US$106 million claim brought by Chinese construction group Sinomach at the HKIAC. The five-year dispute over a cancelled railway project was settled in late 2017.

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”.

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