SRC appeal: QC to assist Najib's appeal has unrivalled experience and expertise in law, says Shafee

  • Nation
  • Wednesday, 01 Jun 2022

KUALA LUMPUR: The Queen's Counsel (QC) sought by former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to assist his SRC International Sdn Bhd appeal is said to have the experience and expertise in law unrivalled by any local lawyers.

This was said by Najib's lead counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah in his supporting affidavit to UK-based Jonathan Laidlaw's application to be admitted as a lawyer in Malaysia for him to appear as Najib's lawyer in the Pekan MP's final appeal at the Federal Court in August.

ALSO READ: Queen's Counsel Jonathan Laidlaw applies to appear as Najib's lawyer in SRC appeal

Muhammad Shafee said the appeal would see serious, complex and novel issues arising for the first time at the apex court.

"Most of these issues have never been substantively judicially determined in Malaysia in any like cases in which local advocates and solicitors have appeared.

"I verily believe there are no other advocates and solicitors in Malaysia which possess equal qualification, experience and expertise to that of the applicant (Laidlaw) particularly for the purposes of advancing the appellant's (Najib) case and assisting the apex court in determination of the serious, complex and novel issues which will arise in the appeal," he said.

ALSO READ: SRC appeal: Najib must file application for Queen's counsel by end of May

As an example, Muhammad Shafee said Laidlaw represented two members of the House of Lords and a member of the House of Commons who were embroiled in the "cash for honours" scandal which involved an alleged link between loans to the UK political parties and the granting of life peerages.

Laidlaw also prosecuted the largest ever investigation into corruption in the Metropolitan Police Service, which led to the conviction of two Flying Squad officers.

He had also prosecuted a Crown Prosecution Service lawyer for corruption, among others.

Meanwhile, Laidlaw's overseas corruption experience includes cases in Brazil, Singapore and Congo.

"The applicant has appeared in 109 reported cases in the Divisional Court, Court of Appeal and House of Lords (now the Supreme Court).

"He has significant relevant experience of appeals involving statutory interpretation," Muhammad Shafee said.

Laidlaw also has the "unusual" quality for a QC with a criminal law background where he has the experience of the commercial courts and of appearing in "cross-over" cases where the criminal and civil jurisdictions meet, Muhammad Shafee added.

"It is respectfully suggested that the Federal Court would benefit from being able to draw upon the applicant's experience and counsel in this important, sensitive and constantly evolving area and in circumstances where it is likely that international trial observers will be present at court given the identity of the appellant and the profile of the case," he said.

On Tuesday (May 31), Laidlaw filed a notice of originating motion at the High Court through Messrs Shafee & Co to be admitted as a lawyer in Malaysia for the purpose of Najib's appeal.

The notice said that Laidlaw was eligible and qualified to be admitted and enrolled to practise as an advocate and solicitor of the High Court of Malaya pursuant to Section 18(1) of the Legal Professions Act 1976 to appear as counsel for Najib in the appeal and all other causes or matters related to the appeal.

On Jan 25, Messrs Shafee & Co submitted a six-page letter to the secretariat of Chief Justice Tun Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat on Najib’s intention to appoint a QC to assist Najib in complex issues and legal questions in his SRC appeal at the apex court.

The QC appointment will be on an ad hoc basis after obtaining admission from the Malaysian court.

Najib's appeal will be heard in August as the Federal Court has fixed a 10-day hearing from Aug 15 to 19 and 22 to 26.

On July 28, 2020, Justice Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali (now a Court of Appeal judge) convicted and sentenced Najib on seven charges involving criminal breach of trust (CBT), money laundering and abuse of position, involving SRC funds, totalling RM42mil.

He was sentenced to 12 years' jail and a fine of RM210mil.

On Dec 8, the Court of Appeal upheld Najib’s conviction and sentence.

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