Azalina: Spanish Courts upholds annulment of Gonzalo Stampa arbitrator for group claiming to be Sulu Sultan's descendants

Published date02 February 2023
Publication titleMalay Mail Online

The Spanish Constitutional Court has upheld the annulment of Gonzalo Stampa the arbitrator for the group of individuals claiming to be the heirs of the Sultan of Sulu.

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Law and Institutional Reform) Datuk Seri Azalina Othman said she received official confirmation that the appeal filed by the claimants had been rejected therefore reaffirming Malaysia's stance not to recognise the claims.

'The Spanish Constitutional Court has just rejected the extraordinary constitutional appeal (recurso de amparo) filed by a group of individuals styling themselves as the 'heirs' of the Sultan of Sulu ('Claimants') against the annulment of Mr Stampa's appointment as arbitrator in the so-called Sulu dispute.

'The government has just received official confirmation that the constitutional appeal filed by the Claimants has been rejected and that, as a result, the annulment of Stampa's appointment (which was already final and binding) has also been confirmed by the Spanish Constitutional Court. The Spanish Constitutional Court, therefore, reaffirms Malaysia's position,' she said in a statement.

The group made claims in the courts in France in March last year that Malaysia must pay the descendants US$14.9 billion (RM63.26 billion).

The dispute arose after 'heirs' and 'successors-in-interest' to Sultan Jamalul Kiram II initiated a claim against the government of Malaysia through an international arbitration proceeding in Madrid, Spain.

The Sulu claimants have been accused of forum shopping or choosing a court that would be most favourable to them, initially seeking arbitration in the UK only to be turned down, and starting the arbitration in 2019 with Spain-appointed arbitrator Stampa.

In explaining today's decision, Azalina said on June 29, 2021, the High Court of Justice of Madrid (HJCM) issued a decision that annulled the unlawful judicial appointment of Stampa to act as an arbitrator ('Annulment Decision').

'The HCJM was the Spanish court that had initially appointed Stampa in 2019 (without hearing Malaysia following invalid service). As a result of this decision, the HJCM retroactively invalidated Stampa's...

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