The Hague court rejected Sulu claim on three grounds, says Azalina

PETALING JAYA: The annulment of Dr Gonzalo Stampa's appointment as an arbitrator was among the grounds on which The Hague Court of Appeal rejected the Final Award to the self-style Sulu sultanate heirs, says Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said (pic).

The Minister responsible for Law and Institutional Reforms said the court's decision was made based on three grounds.

"Firstly, no Final Award could have been lawfully rendered due to the annulment of Dr Stampa's appointment as arbitrator by the same Spanish court that appointed him, which in turn invalidated all of his procedural acts.

"Thus, no arbitral award exists that could be capable of recognition and enforcement.

ALSO READ: Sulu claim nears its end

"The arbitral tribunal was moreover not properly constituted since the appointment of Dr Stampa was annulled, which led to the rejection of the claimants' request," she said in a statement on Wednesday (June 28).

"Secondly, no valid arbitration agreement exists so no arbitration procedure could have legally taken place to begin with.

"It cannot be established that the parties intended to settle disputes by arbitration; even if they did, the alleged clause referred to by the claimants is in any event dysfunctional and cannot be relied upon.

"Finally, the exceptional stay of enforcement of the purported Final Award in Paris is a further ground for refusal which renders the sham award incapable of recognition and enforcement in The Netherlands," she added.

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Azalina said the decision which upheld Malaysia's challenge against the recognition and enforcement in the Netherlands of the purported Final Award, rendered illegally by Dr Gonzalo Stampa in Paris on Feb 28 last year, was announced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim on Tuesday (June 27).

She said the Final Award was rendered in a sham arbitration brought by the claimants, the so-called Sulu heirs.

"This decision confirms Malaysia's position that the sham arbitration should never have taken place, that it was illegitimate from the start, and that the purported Final Award is null and void.

"To that end, the claimants cannot rely on the purported Final Award to attempt to seize Malaysian assets in The Netherlands and (this) landmark judgment will likely render futile any further illegitimate attempts by them and their (financial backers) to enforce it in other jurisdictions.

ALSO READ: Dutch court decision proves Sulu heirs have no legal standing, says Hajiji

"The Hague Court of Appeal’s decision signifies Malaysia’s achievement in its ongoing legal challenge to deprive the enforcement of the purported awards globally, which is a threat to the entire international arbitration system.

"Simultaneously, the government of Malaysia has taken the necessary steps to obtain payment of the cost ordered against the claimants, following the Paris Court of Appeal’s decision of June 6 upholding Malaysia's challenge against Dr Stampa's earlier 'Preliminary Award' on jurisdiction.

"The government shall ensure that the sovereignty, security and interests of Malaysia are protected and upheld at all times," she said.

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