Sulu Claim: Malaysia Secures Landmark Victory Before Paris Court Of Appeal

Pic – Kota Kinabalu, Sabah


KUALA LUMPUR:  The Paris Court of Appeal upheld Malaysia’s challenge against the partial award rendered on May 25, 2020 by Dr Gonzalo Stampa in the case filed by eight citizens of the Philippines, who are purported heirs of the long-defunct Sultan of Sulu (Claimants).
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Law and Institutional Reform) Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said said the decision means that the Claimants cannot rely on the sham award in France for any purpose.
“The Paris Court of Appeal found that the arbitrator (Stampa) wrongly upheld his jurisdiction.
This decision, which is final and binding, is a decisive victory for Malaysia in its ongoing pursuit of legal remedies, which Malaysia is confident will result in comprehensive defeat for the Claimants and their funders,” she said in a statement. 
Azalina said Malaysia trusts that today’s decision of the Paris Court of Appeal will put an end to the efforts of the Claimants and their funder, Therium, to enforce the unlawful awards and thereby extract windfall damages from Malaysia.
Azalina said as part of their abusive strategy, the Claimants had previously targeted Malaysia’s diplomatic assets in France (including part of its Embassy) on the basis of this partial award.
However, she said that Malaysia had been fighting these measures on the grounds of diplomatic immunity.
“They must now be withdrawn following today’s decision that refused to give any effect to the partial award in France,” she said.
Importantly, this decision implies that the Paris Court of Appeal will annul the purported “Final Award” in which Stampa remarkably awarded close to US$15 billion to the Claimants.

The minister said Malaysia is seeking to have the annulment recorded in a court decision as soon as possible, which should lead to the collapse of the Claimants’ global enforcement efforts to date.
“Mr. Stampa issued the “Final Award” despite his appointment having been annulled by the same Spanish court that had previously appointed him, on the basis that Malaysia had not been properly served ahead of that appointment process.
“In defiance of Spanish court orders instructing him to cease acting as arbitrator, in an unprecedented move, Mr Stampa transferred the arbitration proceeding to France and issued his “Final Award” and Mr Stampa’s sustained actions in defiance of Spanish court orders have resulted in a significant abuse of the international arbitration process,” she said.
Azalina also expressed appreciation to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim for his continued support and unwavering trust in their ongoing effort to uphold Malaysia’s position,
“We would also like to express our gratitude to Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir, the Communications and Digital Minister Fahmi Fadzil, the Attorney-General, the State Government of Sabah, the Attorney-General’s Chambers, the Malaysian Embassy in France, the relevant Ministries and agencies and all other parties involved,” she said.
She said the Government of Malaysia will continue to take all necessary actions including legal action to put an end to the claims and to ensure that Malaysia’s interests, sovereign immunity and sovereignty are protected at all times.
The group claiming to be heirs of the Sulu Sultanate was reported to have taken legal action in the Spanish Court to seek compensation for land in Sabah, which was allegedly leased by their ancestors to a British trading company in 1878.
They then took the matter to the Spanish arbitrator in 2019 and the purported arbitrator, Mr. Stampa, who was appointed by the group of individuals, decided in their (the claimants’) favour.
Mr. Stampa had issued a final award of US$14.9 billion (RM62.59 billion) against Malaysia and Malaysia had used all legal remedies to annul the award given by Stampa to claimants in courts in Spain, France, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.
On March 14 this year, the Paris Court of Appeal upheld the stay order obtained by the Malaysian government in France on July 12, 2022, against the enforcement of the award.
Therefore, the suspension order obtained by Malaysia regarding the enforcement of the award is maintained.

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