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MH370: Foreign Lawyers Seek To Represent Next Of Kin In Civil Suit

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KUALA LUMPUR – The application by two foreign lawyers to get leave to jointly appear for the biggest legal proceedings initiated by 76 next of kin against Malaysian Airline System Bhd (MAS) and four others for damages over the disappearance of flight MH370 is set to be heard on Oct 21.

High Court (Appellate and Special Powers) judge Justice Hanipah Farikullah has ordered both foreign lawyers to file their submissions in reply by 4pm Friday for the hearing proper.

Justice Hanipah also allowed other interested parties involved in the lawsuit to file their replies by Tuesday noon.

The Bar Council, MAS, Malaysia Airline Bhd (MAB), Department of Civil Aviation director-general, Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) and the Government are objecting the application by the lawyers for admission to appear in the case.

The plaintiffs’ lawyer Michael Yap had said they are applying for two attorneys from the United States – Steven C. Marks and Roy Kalman Altman – to jointly appear for this civil suit hearing due to their expertise and experience in aviation matters.

Lawyer Farez Jinnah, who represented Bar Council and KL Bar, maintained that they were objecting the ad-hoc admission by both attorneys under Section 18 of the Legal Profession Act 1976 to appear in special case.

“We are objecting on grounds both lawyers did not comply with the requirements of the Legal Profession Act to appear for the case,” he added.

MAB’s counsel P. Rutharakumaran confirmed the details.

The plaintiffs comprised 66 Chinese nationals, eight Indians and two Americans.

The foreigners were family members of 32 passengers who are seeking damages over their losses.

This is the largest lawsuit in Malaysia in terms of number of passengers involved.

In the statement of claim dated March 3, they are seeking special damages, general damages, costs for bereavement and interests.

They are also claiming for aggravated and exemplary damages against the Department of Civil Aviation’s director-general, RMAF and the Government.

Among others, they are claiming for negligence, breach of contract, breach of statutory duty and breach of the Montreal Convention against MAS.

Besides that, they are seeking for claims over conspiracy, fraud, breach of statutory duty and misfeasance of public office against the Department of Civil Aviation, RMAF and the Government.

In the court papers, they said the liability of MAS and MAB for the injuries and death of passengers on board MH370 under the Montreal Convention is absolute.

The families said MAS gave no proper account of events that had happened during the flight, which, the next of kin was later informed in text messages, had gone down in the Southern Indian Ocean.

Flight MH370 departed from Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) to Beijing, China, on March 8, 2014.

They said the Department of Civil Aviation director-general on Jan 29 last year declared MH370 to be an accident, and that all 239 passengers and crew on board the flight were presumed to have lost their lives. – The Star Online

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