A Real Taste in a Litigation Firm

Pupillage

Introduction

“The gladdest moment in human life is a departure into unknown lands.” – Sir Richard Burton

Being an attachment student for one month in Alex Chang & Co (ACC) is one of the most memorable experiences in my life. Instead of travelling around Europe during the summer break, fate blessed me by giving me an opportunity to venture into the legal settings through ACC. By venturing into the unknown, I have emerged with a lot of practical knowledge, of which I could not have gained without my journey in ACC.

Part 1: Beyond my wildest imagination

I remember my first day in ACC as if it was yesterday. After a short introduction, I was given a mini ‘training’ in photocopying and scanning. The highlight of the first day was when I was instructed to translate a legal document from English to Malay. Knowing nothing about translation of legal terms, I felt so nervous but I was effectively guided by Mr Chang and all my colleagues. When time came for my work to be assessed I could feel my heart in my throat, as it was my first time and everyone could see the documents I had translated. However, I thank Mr Chang for taking a leap of faith on me, even though I have no prior experience in doing it.

Part 2: Tale of English Tourist and Mareva Injunction

I was also invited to observe a case, where the Plaintiff tried to apply for the Mareva Injunction before the judgement of his claim on the director’s duties. Mr Chang was the counsel for the Defendant.

            On the day of the hearing, I entered the Judge’s chamber with Mr Chang and my colleagues, as well as the Plaintiff’s counsel. I was excited as it was my first time entering the High Court for a hearing.

2.1 What is Mareva Injunction?   

Mareva injunction originated from Mareva Compania Naviera SA v International Bulkcarriers SA [1980] 1 All ER 213 in 1975. It is a court order where the Plaintiff seeks to restrain the Defendant from dealing, removing and/ or disposing assets which may be essential to the Plaintiff’s claim.

To satisfy a Mareva injunction, the Plaintiff must fulfil all the required elements. Firstly, he must show that he has a good arguable case. It will be sufficient if the Plaintiff can prove there is a fair opportunity that the Plaintiff will obtain a judgement against the Defendant. Secondly, there must be the risk of dissipation of the Defendant’s assets. In this context, the Plaintiff must prove that there is a real danger that the Defendant’s assets may be dissipated before the judgement is obtained.

2.2 English high street name

During the hearing, Mr Chang had made a reasonable argument that our client  would not escape from the jurisdiction as he had a high street name. The Plaintiff’s counsel looked puzzled when he initially listened to Mr Chang’s argument. However, he was later enlightened by the judge.

At that point of time, I was impressed by how Mr Chang rebutted the Plaintiff’s counsel argument by brilliantly using the client’s family name.

2.3 Residency status

Besides, the Plaintiff’s counsel also argued that the Plaintiff should have the right to the company’s cheque signatory. However, Mr Chang rebutted that the Plaintiff has no right to sign any company cheque as the Plaintiff only has a tourist visa in Malaysia. It is worth mentioning that the Plaintiff’s counsel did not make clear his own client’s residency status in Malaysia, as he had no supporting document to affirm his point.

From this, I understood that any and every minor detail could potentially be used as a strong argument in court.

2.4 Preparedness of the supporting documents

            In order for the hearing to be in favour of our client, Mr Chang had prepared a reasonable list of creditors and cash payments that must be made urgently without any supporting documents. It is worth noting that even though there is no evidence supporting the list, as long as it is reasonable and commercially sensible, the Judge would highly likely allow for the release of the stipulated amounts of payment to be made. 

2.5 The Judge

            As luck would have it, the judge for this hearing was quite practical. He wanted both parties to settle in commercial sense. The judge granted a variation ex-parte order, so the bank account of the company in dispute could be unfrozen for the particular amount of money in one particular month. This order was granted so that the business of our client’s company can still be carried out properly.

Conclusion

Being an attachment student in ACC did not only contribute towards my knowledge of the law, but also gave me a practical insight into practising in a litigation firm. Words cannot express my appreciation for having such a special trip in ACC. For those who are interested in applying for the position of an attachment student with ACC, trust me, you will have fun here!

Chan Chien Mei Jennifer
University of Liverpool

Chan Chien Mei Jennifer
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