Siva Kumar Kanagasabai Partner

T +603 2081 3999 ext 734


Kumar heads the Maritime and Shipping practice group in the firm. He has acted and advised local and international clients in ship arrests, charterparty disputes, oil pollution claims, vessel detentions, cargo claims, Incoterm contracts and enforcement of ship mortgages under conventional and Islamic facilities.

He also co-heads the Employment practice of which he has over 20 years’ experience. He has advised extensively on various human capital matters, including trade disputes, fraud related issues and investigation, structuring senior executive packages, advising on separation schemes and crisis management.  He has acted as lead counsel in a full range of employment-related disputes. 
He is also involved in general corporate/commercial litigation and has acted as counsel in both domestic and international arbitrations. Kumar is a regular contributor to law publications and is often invited to speak at law conferences.
He is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators.

Key Practice Areas

  • Maritime and Shipping
  • Employment
  • Commercial Litigation and Arbitration
  • Fraud and Asset Recovery

  • Acted as counsel for shipowner in multi-million dollar cross-border cargo damage claim in an international arbitration.
  • Acted as counsel for ship owners in claims against port-authorities for damage to a vessel during loading.
  • Acted as counsel in multi-million dollar claim for alleged breach of bunker supply agreement as well as in other bunker supply claims.
  • Acted for mortgagees and receivers in recovery actions against vessels.
  • Acted in multi-million dollar shipbuilding contract and charterparty disputes.
  • Acted in ship arrests  and setting aside orders for ship arrests   in Malaysian ports in connection with various maritime claims.
  • Gave expert evidence on Malaysian law on ship arrest in an LMAA international arbitration whose seat of arbitration was in Singapore.
  • Acted in shipping-related insolvency matters, including for bank, receivers and liquidators in priority claims brought by  an equitable mortgagee involving the liquidation of a shipyard.
  • Acted in an arbitration claim involving a breach of commodity supply contract.
  • Acted in various judicial sales of vessels on behalf of sellers and buyers

  • Acted as counsel in Telekom Malaysia Kawasan Utara v Krishnan Kutty Sanguni Nair [2002] 3 CLJ 314 which decided the standard of proof to be applied in unjust dismissal claims. [Court of Appeal]
  • Advised local and international clients  to crisis manage issues for companies in Malaysia in respect of senior management  misconduct, acting in excess of authority and other  wrongdoing and removal of senior personnel, including in the context of  the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
  • Advised  on  employment aspects in mergers and acquisitions and takeovers.
  • Acted as Counsel in the Court of Appeal in a matter involving an important point of law about the legal rights of an employee after privatization.
  • Acted as Counsel in the Court of Appeal and as junior counsel in the Federal Court in the landmark case of Padiberas Nasional Bhd. V Zainon Ahmad [2011] 8 CLJ 38 on the effect of a voluntary separation scheme on the rights and obligations of  parties under the contract of employment.
  • Acted in various claims for unjust dismissal involving senior management.
  • Acted as counsel in a claim by 292 employees of fraud, misrepresentation and conspiracy on the part of a corporation in a VSS exercise.
  • Advised on  various industrial relations matters, issues relating to trades union competency and locus standi of trade union to represent employees, including as junior in the landmark case of Kesatuan Kebangsaan Wartawan Malaysia v Syarikat Pemandangan Sinar Sdn. Bhd. on the effect of a business transfer on a collective agreement.
  • Acted in various contractual claims involving employees including in Abracadabra Speculative Ventures Inc. v Colin David Patterson [2014] 1 LNS 1491 which involved the interpretation of a contract in relation to a bonus claim.
  • Acted in various actions involving breach of confidentiality and tortious acts by employees.
  • Acted as Counsel in a claim against a statutory body on the legality of the appointment of a senior employee (High Court decision reported as Kesatuan Pekerja-pekerja Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka v Lembaga Pengelola Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka [2010] LNS 431).
  • Acted in various judicial review applications involving challenges against decisions of the Industrial Court or the Minister of Human Resources, including in Hasni Hassan v Menteri Sumber Manusia [2013] 6 CLJ 74 and Germax Sdn. Bhd. V Menteri Sumber Manusia [2002] 5 CLJ 466.

  • Acted as counsel in a domestic arbitration in relation to alleged breaches of a concession agreement involving total claims in excess of RM100 million, including opposing aninjunction in aid of arbitration.
  • Acted for the Defendant in a securities and margin financing claim in excess of RM600 million.
  • Advised  in insurance type claim by a member against mutual organisation on the right to seek support.
  • Acted as counsel in a land dispute where a challenge was made on the indefeasibility of registered title and which involved allegations of illegality and forgery.
  • Acted  for major insurance companies in  in obtaining vesting orders in relation to business transfers.
  • Acted for the Malaysian Bar Council in disciplinary cases.

Internal Fraud Management
  • Acted in a multi-jurisdictional recovery action against the Defendant who had defrauded a foreign company, including obtaining injunctions and other interim orders.
  • Acted in investigations/inquiries into fraud and corruption by employees including where  the FCPA applied.
  • Engaged in fraud recovery action against directors and employees

  • Diploma in International Arbitration, Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (2012)
  • Advocate and Solicitor, High Court of Malaya (1995)
  • LL.B (Hons), Adelaide (1994)
  • Bachelor of Commerce, Adelaide (1993)
Professional Affiliations:
  • Fellow, Chartered Institute of Arbitrators
  • Member, Shipping & Admiralty Law Committee, Bar Council
  • Member, Transport & Infrastructure Committee, Malaysian International Chamber of Commerce and Industry
  • Member, Malaysian Institute of Taxation
  • Panel member, Asian International Arbitration Centre (AIAC)

  • Author, Malaysian Chapter in “Remedies for International Sellers of Goods – 2nd Edition”, Juris Publishing (2012).
  • Author, Malaysian Chapter in Restrictive Covenants and Trade Secrets in Employment Law, American Bar Association (2011).
  • Co-Author (with Selvamalar Alagaratnam), Legal Guide to Employee Disputes (2010).
  • Contributing Editor, Malaysian Civil Procedure, Sweet & Maxwell Asia.
  • Halsbury’s Laws of Malaysia, Industrial Law (2007), LexisNexis.
  • Halsbury’s Laws of Malaysia, Labour Law (2007), LexisNexis.
  • Co-author (with Selvamalar Alagaratnam), Malaysia Court Forms, Employment Law, LexisNexis.
  • Co-author (with Nallini Pathmanathan and Selvamalar Alagaratnam, “Law of Dismissal”, CCH Publication (2003).

  • Ranked in Chambers Asia-Pacific from 2018 – 2020 for Shipping.
  • Ranked by Chambers Asia-Pacific from 2018 – 2020 for Employment and Industrial Relation.
  • Listed in Asia Business Law Journal 2019 as one of 'Malaysia Top 100 Lawyers - The A List'
  • Listed as a "Leading Individual" for Shipping by Legal 500 Asia Pacific 2019.
  • Listed as a “Market-Leading Lawyer” by asialaw Profiles from years to years for labour and employment, shipping, maritime and aviation practice areas.
  • Listed as a “Dispute Resolution Star” by Benchmark Litigation Asia-Pacific 2018.
  • "The 'commercial' Siva Kumar Kanagasabai, who heads the department and is praised by clients for his market knowledge, acted for Portigon on its arrest of the MV Newlead Victoria" - Legal 500 Asia Pacific 2019
  • Siva Kumar acts on both employment litigation and advisory work. He is very responsive and commercial in his advice." - Chambers Asia-Pacific 2018
  • "his advice is client-friendly and he has quite good commercial sense." – Chambers Asia-Pacific 2018
  • Respected as a team leader and “experienced litigator” in Labour and Employment, for his “ability to understand issues and provide assistance”. – Asialaw Profiles 2018
  • He has been highly rated in the areas of the law he practices in.  He has won the ILO Employment Lawyer of the year award for 3 consecutive years and been ranked by leading publications such as Chambers and Legal 500.  ILO has published feedback from clients that “[H]is advice and work quality have been nothing short of outstanding”; “[I]n many instances Mr Kanagasabai has demonstrated his added value as an 'out of the box' counsel. He effectively sees strategic solutions from the client’s perspective, business needs and commercial practicalities” and “His ability to render advice on complex matters in a concise, straightforward yet comprehensive manner is what sets him apart from most of his contemporaries and one of the many main reasons we continue to work with him”.