Prof William Swadling writes:

AS I hold the most recent appointment as Jeffrey Cheah Professorial Fellow in Brasenose College Oxford, I am looking forward tremendously to fulfilling that role.

Although I have visited Malaysia and other countries in the region on a number of occasions, most recently in my role as Visiting Professor at the National University of Singapore, I have not yet been able to visit Sunway University due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Tan Sri Dr Jeffrey Cheah is very well-known and highly-regarded here, so I am very aware of his visionary leadership of the Sunway Group and Sunway University, both of which he founded.

Through his support, which is focused in Brasenose on the two Jeffrey Cheah Professorial Fellowships, a Jeffrey Cheah Scholars-in-Residence programme, and the much sought-after Oxford-Jeffrey Cheah Graduate Scholarship, tenable in Brasenose, Tan Sri Cheah has formed strong links between his young university and the oldest in the English-speaking world. A major achievement indeed!

The potential benefits to both institutions of such linkages are truly extraordinary, and I look forward to playing my part in bringing to fruition Tan Sri Cheah’s great ambitions for his university.

In addition to Tan Sri Cheah’s reputation as an extraordinary visionary, he is also well-known for his integrity and insistence on financial and other propriety in all his dealings, and in all sections of his enormous conglomerate.

As my field of expertise is in the law of trusts and restitution, in writing a short opinion piece for the 10th anniversary of the Jeffrey Cheah Foundation, I thought it’s appropriate to briefly address an issue exercising legal minds in a number of jurisdictions worldwide, including Malaysia, where it is particularly apposite at the present time, to the understandable concern of the Malaysian people.

Suppose a company employee takes a bribe in the course of his or her employment. It may or may not cause their employer loss. But can the employer sue for the amount of the bribe? Or better still, can it ask a court to say that the bribe is held on trust for the employer?

The latter strategy has the advantages of both ring-fencing the bribe monies in the event of the employee’s insolvency, and giving the employer access to their profitable investment.

Although English courts had for many years ordered such employees to pay over the amount of the bribe, they stopped short of declaring trusts of the bribe itself.

That has now changed.

First, the Privy Council in a decision from New Zealand held that a corrupt public official, in fact the man in charge of stamping out corruption in Hong Kong, held the HK$12mil bribe he received from triad gang members to suppress their prosecutions on trust for the Hong Kong government, along with the land he bought with it.

That decision, although initially doubted in England, was followed by the UK Supreme Court in 2014, so that a “secret commission” of €10mil paid by the vendor to the purchaser’s agent on the sale of the Grand Monaco Hotel was declared to be held on trust for the purchaser.

The tough stance taken by the courts is easily explained. As one judge said: “Bribery is an evil practice which threatens the foundations of any civilised society.”

Sunway-Oxford academic link

Prof Mark Wilson writes:

In considering how he might link his new university with Oxford, Tan Sri Dr Cheah chose Brasenose College, of which I am dean, as a partner to cultivate a close relationship between Oxford University and Sunway.

It was a wise choice.

Founded In 1509, and located adjacent to the iconic Radcliffe Camera, Brasenose has a reputation for friendliness and informality, and for being receptive to new ideas in the way that it deals with the world outside its walls.

Among the 38 colleges of the University of Oxford, it is the most popular choice for those who want to study for an undergraduate degree and it has a stellar list of alumni including Michael Kosterlitz (Nobel Prize for Physics), William Golding (Lord of the Flies; Nobel Prize for Literature), John Buchan (The Thirty-Nine Steps), several prime ministers (Gorton, Cameron, Turnbull), and notable public figures such as Sir William Petty, Sir Michael Palin and Lord Colin Cowdrey.

I was delighted to have been appointed as one of the Jeffrey Cheah Professorial Fellows in Brasenose, and greatly impressed with Sunway University on visits there in my role.

Tan Sri Dr Cheah has been both generous and visionary in establishing these close ties between our two institutions.

My research work, although very theoretical, has practical applications. I develop models of biological networks namely collagen in the eye, inorganic film filters for the oil and gas industry, and assessment of low dimensional crystal structures, network-forming liquids and glasses.

So, I am deeply impressed by Tan Sri Dr Cheah’s commitment to sustainability in all of his various commercial and educational endeavours. I particularly support his responsible mix of development and improvement of the environment for the people of Malaysia.

To be part of this collaboration has been a privilege and I thank Tan Sri Dr Cheah and Sunway for the opportunity.

About Prof William Swadling

Prof Swadling is a Jeffrey Cheah Professorial Fellow, and Senior Law Fellow at Brasenose College, Oxford, and Professor in the Law of Property in the Oxford University Law School.

He has previously held positions in Trinity College Cambridge and University College, London.

As an expert on the Law of Restitution, he is widely cited in the English courts. He is a contributor to Halsbury’s Laws of England and wrote the section on property in Burrows (ed) English Private Law.

He is also the founding editor of The Restitution Law Review, and has held visiting professorships at the University of Hamburg, Seoul National University, the National University of Singapore and the University of Paris.

He is an Academic Associate at leading commercial Chambers, and lectures regularly at the Universities of Hong Kong and Melbourne.

He is an elected member of the American Law Institute and an academic member of the Chancery Bar Association.

About Prof Mark Wilson

Prof Wilson is a Jeffrey Cheah Professorial Fellow at Brasenose College, Dean of Brasenose College, and Professor of Physical Chemistry in the Department of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, University of Oxford. He is the dean of Brasenose College.

He graduated from University of Oxford with a Doctor of Philosophy and is a Reader in Theoretical Chemistry and Tutorial Fellow in Physical Chemistry.

Prof Wilson covers all aspect of the Physical Chemistry component of Oxford’s four-year MChem degree. He also develops and applies models which help understand complex phenomena such as crystallisation, vitrification, polyamorphism and nanoparticle self-assembly.

The primary focus of his research interest is on the construction, development and application of relatively simple potential models. The use of such models allows a wide range of systems, with potentially unique properties, to be accessed.

His research currently in progress includes study of formation of low-dimensional crystal structures, network-forming liquids and glasses, the extension of known phase diagrams, polyamorphism and nanoparticle self-assembly.

Brought to you by Jeffrey Cheah Foundation in conjunction with its 10th anniversary.

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