Benchmark Litigation Asia-Pacific reflected on our major cases and client wins over the past year. The review is reproduced below.
The Benchmark Litigation Asia-Pacific 2021 is a guide to the region’s leading dispute resolution firms and lawyers. The lists of rankings are based on extensive interviews with litigators, arbitrators, dispute resolution specialists and their clients, as well as examinations of recent casework handled by law firms and lawyers.
AmerBON, Advocates is renowned for its civil and human rights, and criminal litigation practices. Particularly, its specialist business and human rights (BHR) team has been advocating with the Malaysian government to formulate national action plans on BHR. The firm is also experienced in handling advocacy on a wide range of other legal issues, from international law, and constitutional and administrative law, to commercial and corporate disputes, and construction and land claims. Last year, the team was engaged in various contentious matters involving corporate fraud, white-collar crimes and anti-money laundering prosecutions. Its criminal law set has been busy defending clients in high-profile, high-stakes criminal prosecutions. For example, the team counselled Sabah’s former Chief Minister and won him an acquittal last June of nearly 50 corruption and money-laundering charges. The firm spends nearly 40% of its time and income on pro bono work in public interest cases.
Co-founders and partners Amer Hamzah and Edmund Bon are leading and respected figures in the market, particularly for criminal law and human rights law, respectively.
The firm continued to build its portfolio of environmental-related litigations, with P Tech Resources engaging their assistance in several highly-publicised prosecutions relating to the pollution of the Kim Kim river. In one case, the firm represented a director of P Tech. This matter examines the legal question on what is the extent of directors’ duties of due diligence. It will also set precedent on how river pollution is tested and whether such evidence will be judicially accepted by the courts. In two other separate but related cases, the firm defended the entire company and its directors in these landmark matters. These cases are the first time that civil claims are brought so extensively for environmental pollution and will impact the way Malaysian law interprets tortious activities. It will also set the groundwork for the admission of business and human rights concepts into Malaysia’s jurisprudence on the ‘polluter pay’ principle.
In a notable triumph, the firm managed to use the litigation process to obtain citizenship status for one of its clients after the court granted him leave to pursue a judicial review against the government. The AmerBON lawyers are also currently advocating for the speaker and the deputy speaker of the House of Representatives in a case brought by the former Prime Minister of Malaysia in respect of their appointments.
Another interesting commercial litigation had the team represent Willowcrest Management in a suit against the Government of Malaysia over an oral agreement for the lease of a prime plot of land in Kuala Lumpur. It is noteworthy because an oral agreement to lease land is being enforced against the government.
Recent publishable clients of the firm include Digi Telecommunications, FGV Palm Industries, SWM Environment and the United Nations Development Programme.
“It came up with a very comprehensive analysis and sound policy recommendations, based on its engagement with key stakeholders and parliamentarians, their pro-bono legal assistance experience in advocating for the marginalised groups and religious minorities in Malaysia, as well as their proven reputation as lawyers committed in the realisation of justice, rule of law and human rights.” – Government and regulatory
“Edmund is not only a great legal practitioner, but he is a genuine activist and a change maker. He generates champions of human rights across Southeast Asia. When he was with our organisation, he pushed so hard to enable changes in its institutional sets. I appreciate that he has devoted his legal practices to assist the marginalised groups and minorities.”
“He is a very good criminal lawyer. He has good knowledge, is apt to learn and has good litigation skills.”
Benchmark Litigation also ranked AmerBON as “Highly Recommended” under the category of White Collar Crime.