Formal requirements
Correction, supplementation and amendment

This article is part of a series on arbitral awards in Malaysia.


1952 Act
Arbitration Act 1952 (the 1952 Act)(1) does not define an "award". Section 15 gives statutory recognition to two types of award:

  • final awards; and
  • interim awards.

An "award" was defined in Jeuro Development Sdn Bhd v Teo Teck Huat (M) Sdn Bhd(2) as a decision made by an arbitrator on a controversy submitted to them. Since the award must be on the controversy submitted for arbitration, the decision must be one that decides on all the issues involved in the dispute.

Mr Justice K C Vohrah in MCIS Insurance Bhd v Associated Cover Sdn Bhd(3) stated as follows:

Under the Act, there is nothing, which prohibits an interim award from being made by an arbitrator unless a contrary intention is expressed in the arbitration agreement. The expression 'interim award' appearing in Section 15 is not defined anywhere in the Act. Nor is the expression 'award' defined. Whatever the expression used, whether 'award' 'final award', 'interim award' or 'temporary award' in the context of our law on arbitration, what is important to ascertain is whether it amounts to a decision on the questions referred for determination by the arbitrator; any form of words amounting to a decision of the questions referred to will be good as an award.(4)

2005 Act
Section 2(1) of the Arbitration Act 2005 (the 2005 Act) defines an "award" as a decision of the arbitral tribunal on the substance of the dispute and includes interim, additional, agreed and final awards. The reference to "interlocutory awards" in the definition must mean that it includes interlocutory awards as well, which protect the interests of the parties or regulate the proper conduct of the arbitration prior to the determination of the merits of the dispute. Therefore, interlocutory orders that do not include the merits, such as security for costs and discovery made by the tribunal in the course of the arbitration, can be enforced with leave of the court.

The new section 33(6) of the 2005 Act (as amended by section 10 of the Arbitration (Amendment) Act 2018 (No. 2) (the 2018 Amendment Act)) further provides that an arbitral tribunal may award simple or compound interest from a given date, at a set rate and with such rest as the tribunal considers appropriate:

for any period ending no later than the date of payment of the whole or any part of:

  • Any sum which is awarded by the arbitral tribunal in the arbitral proceedings;
  • Any sum which is in issue in the arbitral proceedings but is paid before the date of the award; or
  • Costs awarded or ordered by the arbitral tribunal in the arbitral proceedings.

In addition, a new section 33(7) provides that the arbitral tribunal's powers to award interests is not prejudiced by the amended section 33(6), and section 33(8) clarifies that an award directing a sum to be paid shall carry interest from the date of the award at the same rate as a judgment debt.

The new section 33(6) has the effect of reversing the decision of the Federal Court in Far East Holdings Bhd v Majlis Ugama Islam dan Adat Resam Melayu Pahang,(5) which held that arbitral tribunals do not have implied powers to grant pre-award interests in arbitral disputes under the old section 33(6) as the provision was silent on pre-award interests. The 2018 Amendment Act has therefore brought the scope of the arbitral tribunal's power to grant pre-award interests in line with international practice.

If, during the arbitral proceedings, the parties settle the dispute, the arbitral tribunal may record a settlement and hand it down as an arbitral award on agreed terms. The award has the same status and effect as an arbitral award on the merits.

Formal requirements

1952 Act
Under the 1952 Act, there is no prescribed form for an award. It need not even be in writing, but if it is not written, this can give rise to problems of enforcement. Generally, arbitral awards even under the 1952 Act are in writing but they need not contain reasons unless the parties have agreed that the arbitrator is to hand down a reasoned award. A court will only order the arbitrator to provide reasons if it was one of the terms of their appointment that a reasoned award is required. The award should be dated and state the place of arbitration.

2005 Act
Section 33(1) of the 2005 Act requires that the award should be in writing and signed by the arbitrator(s). Where there are three arbitrators, the signature of the majority of the members of the arbitral tribunal would suffice, provided that the reason for any omitted signature is stated. The award should state the reasons for the award unless the parties have stated otherwise or if the award is made on agreed terms. The award should also be dated and state the place of arbitration.

Essential content
The award should, apart from the substantive relief, which should be spelled out in the award, deal with all matters in dispute. The award should also be unambiguous and certain.

Prior to the 2018 Amendment Act, an arbitral tribunal has no power to award pre-award interest unless otherwise provided in the arbitration agreement, and post-award interest may only be awarded if pleaded by the parties in their respective statement of case or counterclaim, as the case may be.(6) As explored above, this position has been effectively overturned under the new section 33(6) of the 2005 Act.

Correction, supplementation and amendment

Pursuant to section 35 of the 2005 Act, a party may, within 30 days of the receipt of the award, request that the arbitrator correct any errors in computation, clerical or typographical errors, or any other errors of a similar nature. The arbitrator can correct such errors on their own initiative. Under the 1952 Act, the arbitrator only has the power to correct clerical mistakes and errors arising from an accidental slip or omission, pursuant to section 18.

The 2005 Act also gives the arbitral tribunal power, at the request of a party made within 30 days of the receipt of the award, to interpret the award on a specific point or part of the award with such interpretation forming part of the award.

There is no equivalent provision empowering interpretations of awards by the arbitrator under the 1952 Act.

For further information on this topic please contact Tan Sri Dato' Cecil Abraham, Dato' Sunil Abraham, Aniz Ahmad Amirudin or Syukran Syafiq at Cecil Abraham & Partners by telephone (+60 3 2726 3700) or email ([email protected], [email protected], [email protected] or [email protected]). The Cecil Abraham & Partners website can be accessed at cecilabraham.com.


(1) For details of the current arbitration legislation in Malaysia, see "Introduction to arbitration in Malaysia: history and current legislation".

(2) [1998] 6 MLJ page 545 at 551.

(3) [2001] 2 MLJ page 561 at 567.

(4) Id at 551.

(5) [2018] 1 MLJ 1.

(6) Ibid.