Malaysia’s Minister of Justice, Azalina Usman Saeed (Johor Barhu, 59 years old) is touring Europe these days. First stop, Madrid. EL PAÍS attends via videoconference. Although a French court canceled …
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Malaysia’s Minister of Justice, Azalina Usman Saeed (Johor Barhu, 59 years old) is touring Europe these days. First stop, Madrid. EL PAÍS attends via videoconference. Although a French court overturned an arbitration award that awarded the alleged heirs of the Sultan of Joló $15,000 million in damages for land exploitation in northern Borneo — a case followed around the world for its amount — the plaintiffs aided the litigation fund. thyrium, They are trying to seize the assets of the Malaysian state (especially the public energy giant Petronas) all over the world. Lawyer Gonzalo Stampa, the arbitrator in the dispute, transferred the case from Madrid to French territory when the Spanish courts revoked his appointment and agreed with Malaysia, which claimed not to defend itself due to an improper summons. Stampa is now facing criminal proceedings for insubordination.
ask. The Spanish courts opened criminal proceedings against attorney Gonzalo Stampa for continuing this arbitration against a court order. Why did you decide to visit Madrid?
Answer. You are well aware that Spanish criminal procedures take time. The oral hearing will not begin until 2024. We are in June 2023. In that period, many things could happen, because Mr. Stampa decided to gradually change jurisdiction. It’s very unfair to us. I thought the right thing to do was to solve it all in Madrid. Once the Spanish courts decide to open criminal proceedings against Stampa, the logical thing to do is to believe that it all ends there. And if you don’t like the decision made against you, you can appeal it.
s. Stampa left Madrid for Paris, he argued, to avoid judicial interference in the arbitration.
R was found.. I have been a registered solicitor since 1990. I have a master’s degree in Alternative Dispute Resolution from the London School of Economics. I have always understood that the rule of thumb in arbitration is that both the forum (jurisdiction) and the arbitrator must be mutually agreed upon. You cannot go on a trip at the request of one of the parties, for any reason, and determine the amount to be paid yourself. The first rule in arbitration is that all parties must consent to the procedure. For us this process was fraudulent.
s. What can you get from Spanish justice?
R was found.. We have tried to settle the dispute, because imposing a $15 billion arbitration award on a sovereign country is not only unreasonable. It’s absurd. But unfortunately, our legal advisors told us [entre otros, el despacho de Uría & Menéndez] The Spanish judicial system obliges us to wait for the end of criminal proceedings. A parallel suit cannot be brought in the civil process. We deeply respect the rule of law, and we have a very good relationship with Spain. But all this will cost us a lot of money. In the end, someone will have to pay for all this. We will claim compensation for damages.
s. Is the litigation fund included in that case? theriumThat spent twenty million dollars on increasing demand?
R was found.. Only if we can gather sufficient evidence of a will to deceive from the outset, the intent to embark on a law-breaking strategy. We will do what we have to do to defend our reputation. But there are still differences to be resolved in various jurisdictions [Francia, Luxemburgo y Holanda]So I don’t want Therium to think we’re threatening the box. With the information we get, we will do what we need to do.
s. Is there something else behind this demand of the heirs of the Sultan of Gulu? Sovereign claim?
R was found.. It must necessarily be a matter of money. This is why I challenged the plaintiffs to take their case to the International Court of Justice, if they really believed it was a matter of a territorial dispute. [los habitantes del estado de Sabah, en el norte de Borneo, el territorio en disputa, decidieron a través de referéndum ser parte del nuevo estado de Malasia]. Mr. Stampa took into account almost the entire size of Malaysia to calculate compensation of 15,000 million. It’s absurd. The first rule in arbitration is that the damages must be a reasonable amount. And before the matter was resolved in Madrid, he moved to another country [Francia]. You can only conclude that it is about the money. They tried to force my country to terminate an agreement and pay, without thinking that we would resist.
s. Your opinion of the role that so-called litigation money plays in justice has changed.
R was found. Let’s be honest. Litigation funds want to make money. They will not invest in a lawsuit if it is not clear that there may be benefits. It’s common sense. It’s a legitimate business. Going to court is very expensive. It’s different when you look at it from the other side. From the standpoint of a government spending a lot of money on lawyers and costs. It is my understanding that the European Union is considering some kind of regulation in relation to these investment entities. I think it would be best if there was some sort of compensation fund for the victims, in case the plaintiffs didn’t get away with it. You must be able to back up your word with action, to put money where you put your mouth. The French Court of Appeal awarded compensation of 100,000 euros. Who will pay them? If you want the freedom to make money by filing a lawsuit, it must be accompanied by the necessary accountability, and the necessary compensation, if you lose and cause great cost to the defendant.
s. Do you really think that in this case coming and going by European courts there is something of “white colonialism”, as you said?
R was found.. This is why our strategy is versatile, it even includes the information of all historical data through a web page in several languages. This is not a business dispute between two companies. These are plaintiffs claiming purported historical rights, which are supported by the Litigation Fund. We must share this historical perspective, protect our reputation, and claim the right to defend ourselves.
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