MALAYSIAN COURT OF APPEAL CONSIDERS INJUNCTIONS TO RESTRAIN THE CALLING OF PERFORMANCE BONDS IN SUPPORT OF ARBITRATION

In the first half of 2019, Malaysia’s Court of Appeal considered no less than four appeals relating to applications to restrain the calling of performance bonds in the construction sector. These applications were made in support of arbitration under Section 11(1)(f) and (h) of the Malaysian Arbitration Act 2005 (“Act”) (prior to its amendments in 2018), which reads:

“11 Arbitration agreement and interim measures by High Court
(1) A party may, before or during arbitral proceedings, apply to a High Court for any interim measure and the High Court may make the following orders for:

(f) the preservation, interim custody or sale of any property which is the subject-matter of the dispute;

(h) an interim injunction or any other interim measures”

We briefly consider the four decisions of the Court of Appeal where the injunction sought to restrain the call on a performance bond was based on unconscionability,[1] and the practical considerations arising from the Malaysian courts’ treatment of such applications.

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Indian Supreme Court rules that Indian courts have jurisdiction to hear an application to set aside an award issued in Malaysia

In its recent decision in Union of India v Hardy Exploration and Production (available here), the Supreme Court of India found that a contractual clause stipulating Kuala Lumpur as the ‘venue’ of arbitration did not amount to a choice of juridical seat. While the Indian courts’ jurisdiction to hear set-aside applications will be excluded if the seat of the arbitration is outside India, the Supreme Court found that in this case there was no chosen seat (and the tribunal had not determined a seat), notwithstanding the choice of Kuala Lumpur as the venue for the arbitral proceedings, and the fact that the award was signed in Kuala Lumpur. Since this was a case where the arbitration agreement pre-dated 6 September 2012 (the date of the key Supreme Court ruling in BALCO), it appears that the Court did not find it necessary to positively determine that the seat was in India; the fact that an overseas seat had not been established appears to have been sufficient for the Indian courts to have jurisdiction to hear the application.

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