Kin of MH370 victims may not be able to sue

PETALING JAYA - Next of kin of the MH370 tragedy victims fear they may not be able to take legal action against Malaysia Airlines after next month, following the expiry of a moratorium protecting the national carrier.

The families' support group, Voice370, said in a statement that the Malaysian Airline System Berhad (Administration) Act 2015, took effect in February 2015, along with a moratorium where no legal process could be initiated or continued without consent of the company administrator.

"There are cases filed against MAS in courts, and the moratorium effect is that all of these cannot proceed until MAS administration ends or there is approval from the administrator.

"Our deadline for taking action is March 8 this year, but when the old administration and moratorium ends, all monies, assets and business of MAS will most likely be transferred to the new legal entity, Malaysia Airlines Berhad (MAB).

"There will be nothing left in MAS when the moratorium ends, making it pointless to sue them," said the group in a statement yesterday.

The group claimed that the Act prevents or severely limits the rights to sue in Malaysia or elsewhere, and even ensured that no order obtained either locally or overseas would be enforceable.

It also claimed there were selective payments or asset transfers made to creditors who were deemed "relevant" by MAS, and none of the MH370 next of kin were in the list.

"If permission to file or prosecute cases against MAS is withheld, we will not just lose our rights to justice, but will also have to shoulder additional losses, including the amount utilised for lawyers, court fees and time, not to mention the emotional heartache we have been enduring for almost two years now," said the statement.

The group urged the Government to allow the legal processes to continue, saying that the moratorium on lawsuits should be applied sparingly to "frivolous and vexatious cases".

"In the worst case, should permission not be given within the deadline, we urge the relevant authorities to extend the time period for legal redress beyond March 8 this year, by at least 60 days," said the statement.

The MH370 flight, carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew, left the KL International Airport at 12.41am on March 8, 2014 and disappeared from radar screens about an hour later, while over the South China Sea. It was to have arrived in Beijing at 6.30am on the same day.