KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 24 — Lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah has filed an appeal against the High Court’s decision to dismiss an application by Queen’s Counsel (QC) Jonathan James Laidlaw to be allowed to practise in Malaysia with the aim of ultimately representing Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
In the notice of appeal sighted by Malay Mail, Shafee’s law firm — Shafee & Co — filed the appeal at the Federal Court on Monday, August 22.
Accordingly, UK-based Laidlaw stated he wished to appeal against High Court judge Datuk Ahmad Kamal Md Shahid’s July 21 decision in accordance with Section 19 of the Legal Profession Act.
Kuala Lumpur Bar Committee’s chairman Vivek Sukumaran affirmed the matter when contacted by Malay Mail.
“Sealed copies of the notice of appeal were served on August 23 to the Bar Council, the KL Bar Committee, the Attorney General’s Chambers as well as the registrar of the High Court which dealt with the matter,” he said.
Vivek said the KL Bar Committee intends to look into the issues surrounding the aforementioned appeal by taking into account the recent circumstances of the Federal Court’s decision to uphold Najib’s conviction and sentencing in the SRC International case.
When asked, he also confirmed Shafee’s firm is the solicitor on record for the appeal.
Malay Mail also managed to verify the matter separately with lawyer Rahmat Hazlan — who is with the law firm Shafee & Co representing Laidlaw — who confirmed the notice of appeal was filed on August 22.
A representative from the Attorney General’s Chambers also confirmed with Malay Mail that the notice of appeal had been served to them via email.
August 22 happens to be a day before the Federal Court dismissed Najib’s SRC appeal. After the Federal Court’s decision on August 23, Najib was sent to prison.
On May 31, Laidlaw filed an application at the High Court in Kuala Lumpur to be admitted under Section 18(1) of the Legal Profession Act to practise in Malaysia as Najib wants to hire him for the final SRC appeal at the Federal Court, claiming to “possess special qualifications, experience and expertise which is not available” among lawyers in Malaysia.
In the notice of originating motion, Laidlaw had sought to be admitted to practice as an advocate and solicitor to appear as lead counsel for Najib in the SRC International cases and other matters that may include ongoing trial hearings and appeals.
Under Section 18(1), the High Court may admit a person — who would have been eligible to be admitted as a lawyer in Malaysia if he was a Malaysian citizen or permanent resident — to practise as a lawyer here, for the purpose of any one case and if certain conditions are fulfilled.
The conditions required to be fulfilled under Section 18(1) are if this person has — in the court’s opinion — special qualifications or experience not available among lawyers in Malaysia for the purpose of that particular case, and also if he has been instructed by a lawyer in Malaysia to act for that case.
However, Section 18(3) of the LPA mandates the court to have regard to the views of “the Attorney-General, the Secretary of the Bar Council and of the State Bar Committee in the state where such cause or matter is to be heard and the other party to the cause or matter.”
The Court of Appeal had on December 8, 2021 upheld the High Court’s July 2020 verdict and sentence of 12 years in prison and a fine of RM210 million meted against Najib.
Najib had been found guilty of one count of abuse of power, three counts of criminal breach of trust, and three counts of money laundering.