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Malaysia 2016 | EXECUTIVE GUIDE | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Datuk Prof. Sundra Rajoo, Director of the Kuala Lumpur Regional Centre for Arbitration (KLRCA), on the field of arbitration and the role it has to play for Malaysia.

Datuk Prof. Sundra Rajoo
BIOGRAPHY
Datuk Prof. Sundra Rajoo is currently the Director of the Kuala Lumpur Regional Centre for Arbitration (KLRCA). He is also the present Deputy President of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (CIArb), and will assume the Presidency post of CIArb in 2016. He is also the Founding President of the Society of Construction Law, Malaysia and the Past President of the Asia Pacific Regional Arbitration Grouping (APRAG), which is a federation of nearly 40 arbitral institutions in the Asia Pacific region. He is a Chartered Arbitrator with extensive arbitration experience that includes over 200 appointments locally and internationally. He serves on the panel of numerous international arbitral institutions and organizations. He is also an Advocate and Solicitor of the High Court of Malaya (non-practicing), a Professional Architect, and a Registered Town Planner.

What are the main objectives that the KLRCA has set out to achieve?

The KLRCA was established in 1978 by the Asian-African Legal Consultative Organization (AALCO) with the objective of becoming the regional arbitration center of choice for South East Asia in general, and Malaysia specifically. As such, the KLRCA was tasked with the duties of administering arbitration proceedings, both domestic and international in character, along with many other tasks relating to the dissemination of knowledge on alternative dispute resolution (ADR) and arbitration, promoting the use of ADRs domestically and internationally, and the training in arbitration of legal practitioners, judges, and other stakeholders, amongst others. The most important function of the KLRCA, and which forms its core function today, is however, the administration of arbitration proceedings. To this end, the KLRCA has its own set of procedural rules, called the KLRCA Arbitration Rules, the latest version of which debuted in October 2013. The KLRCA Arbitration Rules, as a whole, govern the conduct of the entire arbitration proceedings, from commencement to termination, whether by way of delivery of a final award from the Arbitral Tribunal or otherwise.

What is the role of arbitration in Islamic finance?

Malaysia is currently one of the leading global hubs for Islamic finance and continues to grow rapidly with a highly conducive international business environment, efficient regulatory and supervisory legal framework, and active secondary sukuk market. More jurisdictions are expected to penetrate into the Islamic financial industry. This in turn has created a diverse and growing community of local and international financial institutions with an increasing number of commercial transactions based on sharia principles. The KLRCA has come out with the KLRCA i-Arbitration Rules, which allows for the resolution of disputes arising from any contract that contains sharia issues. The aim behind the Rules is to provide arbitration that is suitable for international commercial transactions premised on Islamic principles, the Rules for which will be recognized and enforced internationally. This is an important move for Islamic finance, because it will provide a process for dispute resolution that incorporates a process for deciding differences of opinion between parties on the sharia compliance of contractual arrangements.

How can KLRCA contribute to the country's goal of becoming a developed nation by 2020?

The regionalization and globalization of elevated investment, trade, and commerce in and from Asia has contributed favorably toward the growth of the Malaysian economy. A significant number of contracts exchange hands when local and foreign investments come in. More companies and institutions alike are turning to arbitration in particular to resolve disputes peacefully and amicably. To safeguard their interests and investments when a dispute arises, these parties more often than not include an arbitration clause in their contracts. KLRCA's international recognition of administering arbitration proceedings, both domestic and international, provides an impartial platform for these parties to do just that. A key selling point of arbitration is the international enforceability of its awards. The reason for this is that, it is usually much easier to enforce a foreign arbitral award than a foreign court judgment. While enforcement of foreign court judgment requires reciprocity agreement between the states, enforcement of the foreign arbitral award can be made on the basis of the New York Convention, to which Malaysia is a signatory. More than 150 states are members of this Convention as of today. This legal instrument offers a relatively simple and unified procedure for enforcement of any arbitral award. KLRCA's vast experience in international arbitration matters gives confidence to local and foreign entities entering into contracts and carrying out transactions in Malaysia. When contracts are honored, businesses progress and the country's economy grows. When a dispute arises, arbitration is in place to resolve the issue, hence ensuring the continuity of businesses.