The Paris Court of Appeal has upheld Malaysia’s stay on the enforcement of a purported final award to the Sulu claimants.
The special government secretariat handling the issue said the appellate court ruled that the Sulu claimants’ challenge to the stay order was inadmissible.
"Hence, the stay obtained by Malaysia on July 12, 2022 for the enforcement of the purported final award remains," it said in a statement.
It noted that the stay order granted then was an exceptional decision and served to reinforce Malaysia’s position that the purported commercial arbitration instituted by the Sulu claimants was without legitimate basis.
"Malaysia will continue to defend itself robustly in all legal fora against all forms of lawfare instituted by its adversaries," it said.
On April 15, 2022, Malaysia filed a request for a stay of enforcement of the purported final award issued by one Gonzalo Stampa in February 2022 in Paris.
On July 12, 2022, the pre-trial judge of the Paris Court of Appeal ordered an unconditional stay of enforcement in France of the purported final award pending the decision of the Paris Court on the set-aside proceedings, on grounds that it would likely affect Malaysia’s territorial sovereignty.
The Sulu claimants filed a challenge on July 27, 2022 against the stay order, the hearing on the merits of which was held on Jan 16, 2023.
The Sulu claimants were previously reported as filing legal action through a Spanish court to seek compensation for land in Sabah which they claimed had been leased by their ancestors to a British trading company in 1878.
They brought the matter for arbitration in Spain in 2019 and Stampa, who was appointed by the group, subsequently made a decision favouring the claimants.
The decision was used in an attempt to seize Petronas assets in Luxembourg.
Malaysia has said it will use all available legal remedies to challenge the actions of the Sulu claimants in the Spanish and French courts.