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Monday, February 27, 2017

Provide MH370 documents to family members, court orders MAS



National carrier Malaysia Airlines has been ordered by the Court of Appeal to release documents related to the disappearance of Flight MH370 two years ago to 76 family members of those on the ill-fated flight.
This follows the appellate court today unanimously dismissing an appeal by Malaysian Airline System Bhd, the administration company of Malaysia Airlines Bhd, on the decision of the High Court in Kuala Lumpur on Sept 8 last year, ordering the national carrier to produce the documents.
Justice Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat, who led a three-member bench in rejecting MAS’ appeal, said there was no compelling and substantive reason for the court to disturb the order.
“The order is discretionary in nature. The appeal (by MAS) is therefore dismissed,” Justice Tengku Maimun said.
The other two judges sitting with her were Justice Abdul Rahman Sebli and Justice Zaleha Yusof.
The court also ordered MAS to pay RM10,000 in costs.
The decision today will have a bearing on 26 other known suits filed in Malaysia by family members of those affected by the disappearance of MH370.
Senior lawyer Tommy Thomas (photo, above), who represented the family members today, told reporters that in his 40 years of experience, he had never come across a party that did not want to commit to a discovery request in a court case.
“This is the first and only case,” said Tommy, who in his submission today called for the national carrier be frank to the family members who wanted to seek a closure on the tragedy.
“The plane has gone missing. We are heading towards a trial and I find it shocking in my years as a lawyer that they do not want to give the required documents for discovery,” he told the court.
'Other agencies have given the documents'
Tommy said besides seeking liability on MAS, the plaintiffs were also seeking damages from other defendants and that was why his clients had requested the documents.
He added that his firm had already obtained documents from government agencies and departments that are parties in the suit following the discovery order, but not MAS.
Despite MAS being granted the order as well, the national courier obtained a stay of the order, pending appeal.
The lawyer for MAS, Saranjit Singh, told the court that the airline was not obliged to give the documents as these claims were not made under the Montreal Convention and that the documents could only be provided if they were relevant to plaintiff's’ case.
The 76 family members, representing 32 passengers of the ill-fated MH370, filed their claims against the national carrier a year ago for negligence, conspiracy and breach of statutory duty, through Tommy's law firm.

The families comprise Americans, Indians, Chinese and Malaysian nationals and this is the largest known suit filed following the mysterious disappearance of the MH370 aircraft.
They named named Malaysian Airline System Bhd, Malaysia Airlines Bhd, the director-general of the Department of Civil Aviation, Royal Malaysian Air Force and the Malaysian government as respondents.
They are seeking claims over the disappearance of the Boeing 777 aircraft from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew, which left the KL International Airport in Sepang slightly before midnight on March 7, 2014, and disappeared on the early morning of March 8.- Mkini

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