GAR 100 - 16th 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 appointments4 (2 as chair or sole)
Lawyers sitting as arbitrator3

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 in over 100 commercial cases. He is one of Malaysia’s appointees to the ICSID panel of arbitrators and has represented his country on the ICC Court and as a member of the Permanent Court of Arbitration. He is a member of the advisory board of the International Council of Commercial Arbitration, and previously sat on the Asian International Arbitration Centre (AIAC)’s advisory panel in Kuala Lumpur.

Abraham brought a team of three partners from Zul Rafique: Rishwant Singh, Sunil Abraham and Aniz Ahmad Amirudin. Sunil Abraham has served as co-chair of the International Bar Association’s Asia-Pacific regional forum and is a member of the IBA’s management board. Both he and Amirudin are fellows of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and sit on the AIAC panel of arbitrators.

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, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and 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 and Bridge Corporation, China’s largest construction and design company; and Ernst & Young.

Before the Malaysian courts, Cecil Abraham has represented 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

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

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 setting aside of awards, as well as interim relief and stays in aid of arbitration.

Recent events

The firm has been acting in a number of disputes over construction projects in Malaysia, including for Malaysian Resources in matters concerning hotel resorts and a conference centre.

Malaysian infrastructure company Ireka has recently used the firm in a domestic arbitration over delays to a project in the southern peninsula of Johor Bahru.

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.

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.

The firm promoted Muzalifah Shabudin to partner in 2022.

Client comment

Martin Chen Kuok Yeow of Hektar Asset Management describes the firm as “the go-to for civil and commercial disputes”, adding that it has “the highest standards of work ethics and professionalism”.

Andy Choy of Yinson, a global energy infrastructure and technology company that used the firm in a multimillion-dollar matter, says it “successfully struck out” the case at the preliminary stage.

Nick Powell, 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 regards partners Sunil Abraham and Amirudin as “seriously impressive”.

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 disputes.

We assist clients to resolve their disputes in an efficient manner. We possess local knowledge, industry sector experience in banking and finance,  construction, infrastructure, environmental, pharmaceutical, oil and gas, sports, transport and telecommunications disputes along with significant arbitral expertise in providing assistance wherever needed. We also provide assistance in a wide range of other matters including those relating to financial crimes, tax litigation, extradition and mutual assistance in criminal matters.

We are determined to assist our clients in addressing the challenges they face in a time of significant turbulence in the world. To do this, we harness our strengths and expertise. We strive towards our vision of creating an environment where diverse individuals with the brightest minds can flourish as a collective.


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