Earlier this year, the Kuala Lumpur High Court issued the first reported decision under the new Malaysian Arbitration Act 2005, which came into force in March 2006. The new Act, based on the UNCITRAL Model Law, marks a shift away from the more interventionist regime set out in the Arbitration Act 1952.

The case, I-Expo v TNB, concerned a contract for the decommissioning and dismantling of TNB's power station. TNB subsequently purported to terminate the contract for breach and barred I-Expo from entering the project site to carry out the work. I-Expo applied to court for an injunction requiring TNB to allow it to enter the site, and TNB countered with an application to stay the court proceedings pending arbitration pursuant to section 10 of the Arbitration Act 2005 and argued that its application for a stay should be heard before the application for an injunction.

The court dismissed TNB's argument that its application for a stay should be heard first and granted the injunction requested by I-Expo. In doing so, it emphasised that the power to grant interim relief before or during arbitral proceedings encompasses all situations in which court intervention is required to maintain the status quo of a dispute so as to preserve the tribunal's ability to determine the dispute. I-Expo Sdn Bhd v TNB Engineering Corporation Sdn Bhd [2007] 3 MLJ 53.