GAR 100 - 14th Edition

Cecil Abraham & Partners

Cecil Abraham & Partners

Professional notice

Home to one of Malaysia’s best-known arbitrators

People in Who's Who Legal1
People in Future Leaders1
Pending cases as counsel5
Value of pending counsel workUS$100 million
Treaty cases as counsel0
Third-party funded cases0
Current arbitrator appointments5 (4 as chair or sole)
Lawyers sitting as arbitrator1

Cecil Abraham launched this Kuala Lumpur boutique in 2015 after serving as head of disputes at Zul Rafique & Partners for eight years.

Arguably Malaysia’s most prominent international arbitrator, Abraham has sat on over 55 commercial cases. He is one of Malaysia’s appointees to the ICSID panel of arbitrators and represents his country on the ICC Court and as a member of the Permanent Court of Arbitration. He is a member of the advisory boards of the International Council of Commercial Arbitration and the Asian International Arbitration Centre (AIAC) in Kuala Lumpur.

Abraham brought a team of three partners from Zul Rafique: Rishwant Singh, Sunil Abraham and Aniz Ahmad Amirudin. Sunil Abraham serves as co-chair of the International Bar Association’s Asia-Pacific regional forum and is a member of the IBA’s management board.

Who uses it?

Various Malaysian government-linked companies have turned to the firm’s lawyers, notably power utility Tenaga Nasional; oil and gas producer Petronas; and property group Malaysian Resources Corporation Berhad.

The firm has also acted for the attorney general of Malaysia, the Royal Malaysian Police and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Agency. It recently represented the Association of Private Hospitals of Malaysia. Media conglomerates, such as satellite TV group Astro, also use the firm, as do high net worth individuals.

Foreign clients include Australian mining company Lynas; China Road, China’s largest construction and design company; Bridge Corporation; and Ernst & Young.

Before the Malaysian courts, Cecil Abraham has been representing former prime minister Najib Razak in his defence against allegations of malfeasance in public office, including relating to the management of sovereign wealth fund 1MDB.

Track record

Abraham and his team’s successes include helping Malaysian real estate company Triumph City Development to win a US$59 million KLRCA award against the Malaysian state of Selangor in a dispute over the termination of a joint venture. The Malaysian courts have upheld the award.

Since 2017, the firm has represented the government of Malaysia against a claim brought by a foreign party under the ASEAN treaty.

The firm successfully acted for an international operator in a Hong Kong-seated arbitration over a hotel resort within the wider Iskandar development project in southern Malaysia.

In another case, the team helped an Astro unit prevail on claims that it was not in breach of a non-disclosure agreement, also obtaining US$1 million in costs.

The firm has appeared in several landmark cases before Malaysia’s highest court that have helped to shape case law on enforcement and set-aside of awards as well as interim relief and stays in aid of arbitration.

Recent events

The firm has recently been acting in a number of disputes relating to construction projects in Malaysia. These include representing Malaysian Resources in four matters concerning hotel resorts and a conference centre.

It has been defending Singapore’s Hatten Land against a US$15 million claim brought by a Chinese state-owned entity over a theme park, shopping and hotel development. 

Malaysian infrastructure company Ireka has retained it for a domestic arbitration over delays to a project in the southern peninsula of Johor Baru.

It is defending the employer entity of Malaysia’s billion-dollar Harbour City marina project in an arbitration brought by a Chinese contractor; and acting in a US$73 million claim over the design of a Malaysian university campus.

London-based Equities First Holdings is using the firm for three HKIAC proceedings worth over US$10 million – as well as related Malaysian court proceedings relating to a share sale.

The firm is advising a Malaysian state-owned electricity company in disputes with a project partner over lease agreements for the operation of independent power plants.

Cecil Abraham continues to sit as an arbitrator in commercial and investment treaty claims. Both Sunil Abraham and Aniz Ahmad Amirudin are sitting as sole arbitrators in commercial cases under AIAC rules.

Client comment

Kuang Hong Lim of Ireka commends the firm for its “outstanding ability to turn around difficult cases”. Besides securing a win, he says, the firm was able to “identify key issues, refine them and present them . . . in a clear and polished manner”.

The client adds that Cecil Abraham is “pre-eminent”, and his services are “outstanding”.

Nick Powell, the founder of disputes consultancy Axiom, says the firm’s lawyers are able to grasp “interrelated technical and legal issues and develop a big picture strategy to navigate through an aggressive dispute landscape.” He says partners Sunil Abraham and Aniz Ahmad Amirudin are “seriously impressive.”

About US

Cecil Abraham & Partners is a leading law firm based in Malaysia. The firm is renowned for its expertise in the area of dispute resolution. The firm comprises lawyers with experience in both domestic and international dispute resolution.

Cecil Abraham & Partners acts in a broad range of civil, commercial and construction disputes. The firm’s practice varies from court and arbitration appearances to advice, both strategic and preventative, in the areas of practice referred to above. The members of the firm have significant court and arbitration (including investment treaty) experience. In recent years, clients have come to the firm for assistance in a wide range of matters including those relating to financial crimes, tax litigation, extradition and mutual assistance in criminal matters.


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