Brunei presides over first-ever virtual trial in ‘new normal’

Fadley Faisal

In a historic first in response to the ‘new normal’ environment of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Brunei High Court awarded a Malaysian company MYR4,106,938.42 in a claim against a Brunei company after a trial was conducted virtually over a week in October 2020.

On February 26, the High Court awarded the Malaysian company over MYR4 million in its claim against the Brunei company after the full trial was conducted virtually. The Malaysian company’s initial claim against the Brunei company was for MYR7,821,855.41.

The award to the Malaysian company is for recovery of unjust benefits gained by the local company at the expense of the Malaysian company, as a result of the local company’s failure to pay the Malaysian company for work provided between December 2014 to October 2015, arising from a multimillion dollar subcontract between the Brunei company and another company in the oil and gas industry. The local company had counterclaimed for overpayments and backcharges which it had paid out to the Malaysian company for the work performed on the Brunei company’s behalf.

However, the counterclaim was dismissed by the High Court. Additionally, the High Court awarded a six-per-cent-per-annum interest to the aforesaid judgement sum from May 23, 2016, to the date of judgement.

Brunei High Court Justice Kannan Ramesh presided over the historic virtual trial from Singapore, while some witnesses provided evidence from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Counsel for both parties conducted their cases virtually from Brunei Darussalam, with the plaintiff being represented by Roy Prabhakaran and Kamal bin Shaari of Messrs Yusof Halim & Partners, while Pengiran Shahyzul bin Pengiran Abdul Rahman and Too Shu Vun of Messrs Pengiran Izad and Lee represented the defendant.