Firm / Organisation

Steven Thiru & Sudhar Partnership

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Managing Partners: Steven Thiruneelakandan
Senior Partner: Sudharsanan Thillainathan
Number of partners: 7
Number of lawyers: 10
Languages: English, Malay

Firm Overview:
Established in May 2018, Messrs Steven Thiru & Sudhar Partnership is a firm of Advocates & Solicitors, with a practice focused exclusively in dispute resolution. The members of the firm practise in a wide array of dispute resolution areas and regularly appear at all levels of the courts in Malaysia as well as in alternative dispute resolution centres. The firm is also committed to serving the requirements of clients in advisory work and other pre – action matters that ensure an effective result in disputes. The firm is comprised of a dynamic and well–regarded group of practitioners. The two Senior Partners are experienced in dispute resolution and are well known practitioners in the profession. Steven Thiru is the 31st President of the Malaysian Bar and T. Sudhar is the immediate past President of the Malaysian Institute of Arbitrators.

Practice Areas:
• General Litigation
• Administrative Law
• Alternative Dispute Resolution
• Constitutional Law
• Corporate and Commercial Law
• Energy Law
• Housing Law
• Employment Law
• Land Law
• Media Law
• Medical Law
• Tax Law
• Probate & Trusts Law

Each practice area has 7 Partners; 17 fee earners based in Kuala Lumpur.

Recent Highlights:
Client: Tenaga Nasional Berhad
Name of matter: Tenaga Nasional Berhad v. Ichi-Ban Plastic (M) Sdn Bhd And Other Appeals
Lawyers: Steven Thiru, David Mathew and Hadi Mukhlis 
The firm acted for Tenaga Nasional Berhad (“TNB”) which is the national energy utility company in 6 appeals involving large power consumers of TNB. The cases concerned claims by TNB for loss of revenue due to meter tampering. The  allowed 5 out of the 6 appeals and held that TNB had successfully proven the fact of the meter tampering and the calculation of the loss of revenue suffered.

Client: Asia Pacific Higher Learning Sdn. Bhd.
Name of matter: Asia Pacific Higher Learning Sdn Bhd v. Majlis Perubatan Malaysia & Ors
Lawyers: Steven Thiru, Gregory Das, Jeremiah Rais
The firm acted as counsel for a private company that operates a university that offered medical degree programs.
In the appeal at the Federal Court, a landmark ruling was delivered on whether decisions made in interlocutory applications, after the trial had commenced, that do not finally dispose of the rights of parties are appealable. The private company was the Appellant in the matter.

The appeal arose from the Court of Appeal’s reversal of a High Court decision that allowed in part the Appellant’s application to amend its Writ of Summons and Statement of Claim after the trial had commenced. The application was made by the Appellant after 6 witnesses had given evidence, but before the Respondents closed their case.

The dispute pertained to the decisions made by the Respondent in the evaluation and accreditation of the local medical programs and the termination of the offshore medical programs. The Appellant sought damages in tort against the Respondents. In the course of trial, the Appellant applied to amend its pleadings to include, amongst others, a further head of damages as a result of a decision in a related judicial review action. The High Court allowed the application in part. The Respondent’s ensuing appeal against the ruling was allowed by the Court of Appeal.

On appeal at the Federal Court, the Appellant raised a preliminary point that the Court of Appeal did not have the jurisdiction to hear the appeal as the High Court’s decision on the amendment application was not appealable in view of Sections 3 and 67 of the Courts of Judicature Act 1964 (“CJA”). By a 4 – 1 majority, the Federal Court upheld the preliminary point and ruled that the appeal before the Court of Appeal was incompetent (as the Court of Appeal did not have jurisdiction to hear the appeal) and upheld the decision of the High Court that partially allowed the Appellant’s amendment application. The Federal Court noted that the term “decision” in Section 3 CJA means 'judgment, sentence or orders, but does not include any ruling made in the course of a trial or a hearing of any cause or matter which does not finally dispose of the rights of the parties'

It was also observed that the term “decision” appears in Section 68 CJA (which states the matters that are not appealable to the Court of Appeal) and, further, the terms “judgment or order” appear in Section 67 CJA (which defines the jurisdiction of the Court of Appeal to hear and determine civil appeals). Accordingly, the Federal Court held that Sections 3, 67 and 68 CJA should be read together to mean that “an appeal does not lie against a decision in an amendment application made in the course of trial as is in the instant action, and moreover, such a decision does not finally dispose of the rights of the parties”.

Client: Investigation Committee of the Malaysian Institute of Accountants
Name of matter: Disciplinary Proceedings against 1MDB’s Ex-Auditors
Investigation Committee v. Ng Yee Hong
Investigation Committee v. Ahmad Nasri
Lawyers:
T. Sudhar, Tania Edward
KPMG, whose audit engagement partner was Ahmad Nasri Abdul Wahab, were 1Malaysia Development Berhad (“1MDB”)’s auditors from 2010 and signed off the accounts for the financial years 2010, 2011 and 2012, without any qualifications or emphasis of matter.

Deloitte, whose audit engagement partner was Ng Yee Hong, were 1MDB’s auditors from 2013 and signed off the accounts for the financial years 2013 and 2014, without any qualifications or emphasis of matter. Andrew Anand Solomon and Yang Berbahagia Tony Pua Kiam Wee lodged two (2) complaints each to the Malaysian Institute of Accountants (“the MIA”) in March and April 2015, against Ahmad Nasri and Ng respectively.

The Investigation Committee of the MIA (“the IC”) investigated all four (4) complaints and proffered charges against Ahmad Nasri and Ng.

Ahmad Nasri
In the course of its’ investigation into the complaints against Ahmad Nasri, the IC had requested various documents pertaining to the 1MDB audit. Ahmad Nasri had initially refused and then delayed in complying with these requests, leading to the Chief Executive Officer of the MIA, Dr Nurmazilah Dato’ Mahzan lodging a complaint against Ahmad Nasri for refusing to comply with the IC’s request that Ahmad Nasri furnish the IC with an unredacted set of the audit working papers. This complaint was heard before the DC, who made an adverse decision against Ahmad Nasri on 17.05.2019.

Ahmad Nasri has appealed against the decision of the DC, which is now pending before the Disciplinary Appeal Board of the MIA (“the DAB”). The proceedings before the DC in so far as the Complaints by Andrew Solomon and Yang Berbahagia Tony Pua are concerned, have yet to commence.

The Firm represented the IC in the proceedings before the DC emanating from the Complaint by the CEO of the MIA and will represent the IC in the proceedings before the DC emanating from the Complaints by Andrew Solomon and Yang Berbahafia Tony Pua.

Ng Yee Hong
The firm acted for the IC in the proceedings before the Disciplinary Committee of the MIA (“the DC”).

Proceedings Pursuant to Andrew Solomon Complaint (“the 1st DC Proceedings”)
The DC began hearing the Complaint on 28.09.2017 and delivered an adverse decision against Ng on 05.09.2019.
The DC’s decision is now pending appeal before the Disciplinary Appeal Board (“DAB”) of the MIA. Ng obtained an injunction order on 17.10.2019 before the learned High Court Judge, Yang Arif Dato’ Nordin bin Hassan, to prevent the DC from making public its decision, on the grounds that he was appealing against the DC's decision.

Proceedings Pursuant to YB Tony Pua Complaint (“the 2nd DC Proceedings”)
The DC began hearing the Complaint on 23.04.2019, and was to continue after the completion of the 1st DC Proceedings. However, on 10.09.2019, Ng made an application to the DC (“Ng’s Application”) to discontinue and dismiss the disciplinary proceedings against Ng in the 2nd DC Proceedings in light of the determination by the DC against Ng in the 1st DC Proceedings, relying on the recent UK Supreme Court decision in R (on the application of Coke-Wallis) (Appellant) v. Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (Respondent) [2011] UKSC 1, that res judicata applies to disciplinary proceedings and that there is an overlap between the 1st and 2nd DC Proceedings. On 23.09.2019, the DC dismissed Ng’s Application and ordered that the 2nd DC Proceedings continue as scheduled (“the DC’s 23.09.2019 Decision”).

Proceedings before the High Court
On 01.10.2019, Ng filed an application in the High Court (“the JR Application”) to judicially review the DC’s 23.09.2019 Decision.

Ng’s Application to Disqualify the Firm
In the JR Application on 29.10.2019, Ng filed an application (“the Disqualification Application”) to disqualify the firm and any advocates and solicitors practising with the firm, from representing the MIA as solicitors or counsel in the JR Application. The basis of the Disqualification Application was that the firm represented the IC in the proceedings before the DC and DAB, and the continued representation of the MIA by the firm would purportedly be contrary to Rules 3(a), 4, 5(a) and/or 31 of the Legal Professional (Practice and Etiquette) Rules 1978.
In response, MIA’s position was that the firm, as prosecutor in the proceedings before the DC, has carriage of the Charges in the 1st and 2nd DC Proceedings, and as a consequence, also has carriage of the JR Application, on behalf of the MIA. The JR Application and proceedings in connection therewith are consequently within the IC’s remit. The learned Judge dismissed the Disqualification Application on 28.11.2019, and accepted the aforementioned position of the MIA. The learned Judge found that Ng had failed to discharge the burden of proof and make out a case to disqualify the firm. Ng appealed against the decision of the High Court, to the Court of Appeal (“the Appeal”).
At the Court of Appeal, the MIA raised a preliminary objection that the Appeal was rendered academic as the JR Application had been disposed of on 27.02.2020. The Appeal was partly heard by the Court of Appeal on 13.05.2020 and is scheduled for continued Hearing on 23.06.2020.

Substantive JR Application
The MIA raised two issues in opposition to the JR Application, the first being in the form of the preliminary objection that the DC’s 23.09.2019 Decision should have been appealed against to the DAB and that the failure to do so by Ng, rendered the JR Application premature and an abuse of process. The second issue raised was that in any event, there was no error of law in the DC’s 23.09.2019 Decision.
On 27.02.2020, the learned High Court Judge, Yang Arif Dato’ Nordin bin Hassan dismissed Ng’s JR Application on the MIA’s preliminary objection, on the basis that the DC’s 23.09.2019 Decision should have been appealed against to the DAB. Ng has appealed against this decision and this appeal is pending before the Court of Appeal. On 09.03.2020, the learned Judge allowed Ng’s Application to stay the 2nd DC Proceedings pending Ng’s 2nd Appeal.
The IC has appealed against this decision of the High Court, and the appeal is pending before the Court of Appeal as the High Court’s Grounds of Judgment have not been released.
The Firm represented the IC in both the 1st and 2nd DC Proceedings, as well as the MIA in the JR Application and all appeals following therefrom.

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