39 Essex Street seals Kuala Lumpur launch

London set 39 Essex Street has confirmed plans to open an office in Kuala Lumpur in October, making it the first UK chambers to have a presence in Malaysia.

39 Essex Street has taken an office at the Kuala Lumpur Regional Centre for Arbitration (KLRCA) following a formal signing of the lease yesterday. The Lawyer first reported the move in October 2013 (18 October 2013).

The new office, its second in Asia after Singapore (26 June 2012), will officially open in October. The set’s Asia business director Roderick Noble will be based in Kuala Lumpur and manage both offices, which offer mainly arbitration services.

There will be two barristers permanently based across the two offices, including Rashda Rana who joined the set in Singapore in September 2013 from Sydney-based Ground Floor Wentworth Chambers, she was also a door tenant at Atkin Chambers.

39 Essex Street’s Kuala Lumpur office will be located in the Sulaiman Building, an art deco heritage building that will house the arbitration facilities of the centre with 20 hearing rooms, 22 breakout rooms, a business centre, a specialised ADR and construction law library and an auditorium. The building is currently being refurbished and is due to open in July.

The KLRCA launched a new set of I-Arbitration rules in September 2012 aimed at resolving disputes under contracts containing Shariah law issues.

“There has been a distinct growth of arbitration in Asia, directly related to the economic growth of the region,” said 39 Essex Street’s chief executive and director of clerking David Barnes. “It seemed a natural move for us to open a dedicated office in Kuala Lumpur.”

Barnes explained that the set has an established relationship with KLRCA and has seen an increase in case flow in Malaysia and the region over the past four years.

“We are experiencing an increase in arbitration cases and believe that with our state of the art building (and facilities) that is scheduled to be completed in July, more parties will opt for the KLRCA,” said Datuk Sundra Rajoo, director of the KLRCA.

According to the centre’s statistics, it handled a total of 156 cases in 2013, up 16 per cent from 135 in 2012. In total, 28 of the 156 cases in 2013 were international matters, a significant growth from the 17 cases in the previous year.