1 My journey in Alex Chang & Co started in March 2015. I was placed under the assessed mini-pupillage programme. Fortunately, both of us were in consensus ad idem and the rest is history.
The Court of Appeal
2 Alex Chang & Co is the place where I started to experience being in a litigation/ dispute resolution firm. The preparation before going to court is definitely something which is very tiring yet exciting and fulfilling. Three Court of Appeal matters I was assigned to follow during my first month here. Priceless to see counsel chew fine points of law.
Section 223 Companies Act 1965 Leave
3 During my first visit to the Court of Appeal at the Palace of Justice, we were representing the Respondents.
3.1 The peculyiarity of this appeal was that the learned High Court Judge ruled in favour of the Appellants/ Plaintiffs in 4 out of 5 points, only in the fifth and last point it was found to be in favour of the Respondents/ Defendants, our clients.
3.2 The matter went very well in our favour. However, towards the end of the second hour, counsel for the Appellants advanced a “sympathy” point.
3.3 The point was, since the learned High Court Judge ruled in favour of the Appellants/ Plaintiffs in 4 out of 5 points, special treatment should be granted to them in the last point.
3.4 I could, from my observation, even from the gallery, see that the learned chairman of the panel was in deep thoughts as His Lordship considered and slowly ‘savoured’ that last point. There was a chance, in my mind that His Lordship could follow that argument.
3.5 At this point, Mr Alex Chang prayed for an opportunity to address the court for a final reply. We invited the learned judges to revisit one English High Court decision to secure a final judgment in our favour in the Court of Appeal.
4 One of my conclusions for the day: thorough reading and full understanding of the authorities is very important; timing your presentation of the right thing at the right time is even more crucial.
Section 221 & 227 of the Companies Act 1965
5 Another visit to Court of Appeal involved two Appeals filed by us. One of the Appeals was whether an ex parte Summons In Chambers may be filed in a Companies Winding Up Petition, for any application deem suitable by the Honourable Court.
5.1 When we arrived, we heard the sweetest words from the Respondents’ counsel. We consent to your appeal after reading the submission. However, for the other Appeal, we cannot agree with you.
5.2 Trenches were dug for the second Appeal.
6 The second Appeal involved Section 227(1) and also 221 (2) of the Companies Act 1965.
6.1 To be more precise, the issue was whether the Official Receiver may be appointed as the Liquidator without first being appointed as the Provisional Liquidator; and
6.2 Whether the High Court Judge may invoke the powers conferred in s 221 of the Companies Act 1965 in the absence of an application made by the parties.
7 We were so tired preparing all the bundles of authorities, research on cases as well as preparing the submissions. When the proceedings started, the Judges said,
“…Counsel for the Appellant do not have to submit as we have read your submission. But, counsel for the Respondent, please tell the Court why the Judge in the High Court was correct…”
8 It did not trouble the learned Judges much to allow our appeal. They ruled that:
8.1 The Court ordered the Official Receiver to be appointed as the Provisional Liquidator for the purposes of the winding up pursuant to Section 227 (1) of the Companies Act 1965; and
8.2 The High Court may not exercise the powers set out in Section 221(2) in the absence of an application set out therein.
9 To prepare a good submission is one thing, to submit is another thing, but to answer all the unexpected questions from the Judges is the most challenging part.
The Federal Court
10 In my second month I was invited to assist and observe the proceedings in the Federal Court, unfortunately that proceeding was postponed to another date. But the atmosphere in Federal Court is very different, the aura of the top Judges in Malaysia can be felt once they entered the Apex Court.
RM74 million Appeal
11 My second visit to the Federal Court, shortly after my first visit, was more exciting.
11.1 We have already saved our clients, the Defendants, RM74 million in damages in the High Court and the Court of Appeal. The Plaintiffs applied for leave to appeal to the Federal Court.
11.2 After weeks of preparation, we waited for the whole day, our ‘air time’ was only 2-3 minutes.
11.3 We again succeeded in keeping the RM74 millions for our clients.
12 On the same day, I had the opportunity to see other matters being presented in the Apex Court too. By observing and listening, there is much to be learned. From the very basic rules to the hardest parts of litigation.
12.1 For example, that the statement of claim, is an important document. If the draftsmanship is wanting, trouble brews.
13 Well, my observations in the first three months. The firm is definitely a place for you to learn, if you allow yourself to be taught. It was indeed an extraordinary experience for me partake in the legal matters handled by Messrs Alex Chang & Co as aforesaid.
13.1 I believe everyone has a different story in his/ her journey in this legal profession. However, all of us have the same mission and vision, that is, to be a successful advocate and solicitor.
Norarifa A Rahman