The Hague court rules in Malaysia’s favour

PETALING JAYA: The Hague Court of Appeal has dismissed the Sulu claimants bid against Malaysia on three grounds, even stating that Spanish arbitrator Dr Gonzalo Stampa should have immediately ceased all arbitration activities after the Madrid Court nullified his appointment.

According to the Dutch court, the final arbitral award given to the eight individuals claiming to be heirs of the Sulu Sultanate on Feb 28 last year in France must be refused.

“Firstly, the judgment of the Spanish High Court of Justice of June 29, 2021 must be recognised in the Dutch legal order, so that it is established that the final arbitral award could not be made and is therefore not eligible for recognition and enforcement,” said the judgment.

This was in reference to the move on June 29, 2021 by the High Court of Justice of Madrid which nullified the judicial appointment of Stampa as an arbitrator.

In its judgment yesterday, the court agreed with the argument that Stampa should have immediately ceased all arbitration activities after the Madrid Court nullified his appointment and that he lacked the authority to continue.

Secondly, The Hague Court of Appeal said the 1878 agreement between the now defunct Sulu Sultanate and the British North Borneo Company did not contain an arbitration clause.

“Thirdly, the suspension of the final arbitral award by the Paris Court means that recognition and enforcement will be refused.

“Needless to say, the court considers that even if it were assumed that a valid final arbitral award has been rendered, this award cannot be recognised in the Netherlands because there are several grounds for refusal.”

The judgment, which was in Dutch, said the court was of the opinion that the agreement concluded in 1878 does not contain an arbitration clause.

The court also affirmed the Paris Court of Appeal’s decision on June 6 this year that Dr Stampa did not have the jurisdiction and his appointment as an arbitrator was incompetent, thus annulling the final award.

It ordered the claimants to pay Malaysia the court cost and legal fees amounting to €18,960 (RM96,853).

In the previous court case in France, Malaysia was also awarded €100,000 (RM492,000).

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