Sitpah Selvaratnam

President, IMSML


Sitpah Selvaratnam was admitted to the Malaysian Bar in 1990 and commenced her career at one of the largest law firms in Malaysia, where she later became Partner.

At the turn of the millennium, Sitpah co-founded TOMMY THOMAS. Having graduated from Cardiff and Cambridge Universities with specialization in Maritime Law, shipping and admiralty issues have been her passion since the mid-eighties. In 2002, Sitpah was appointed to the first Admiralty and Shipping Law Committee established by the Malaysian Bar Council and elected its Deputy Chair, signaling recognition by her peers of her expertise in this specialised area of law.

Having presented papers on the reform of the admiralty and shipping laws and practice in West Malaysia, championed the need for a Specialist Admiralty Court and initiated the draft Admiralty Practice Directions which came into effect in 2007, Sitpah continues her active involvement in shaping the nation’s maritime laws.

In her 20 plus years of practice, Sitpah has been involved in over 100 shipping In Rem and In Personam actions, including arrest of ships, charterparty and cargo disputes, collision and shipyard claims. Disputes pertaining to international trade, documentary credit, marine insurance and damage at ports and in transit fall squarely within her expertise. In the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis, she represented an international bunker supplier in successfully securing judgment under a fixed price bunker supply contract against one of the largest tanker owners in the world.

Beyond the sphere of Maritime Law, Sitpah enjoys the additional privilege of working with consortiums of bankers and financiers in Banking and Corporate Insolvency Litigation. She is highly experienced in the intricacies of corporate receivership, rights under debt restructuring, schemes of arrangement and work-out proposals of Special Administrators. She regularly advises institutions on legislative framework governing the insolvency of corporations and financial institutions.

As a member of the working committee empanelled by the Securities Commission on Asset Backed Securitisation, Sitpah has had the benefit of particular insights into the structure of issuance and enforcement of bonds. This knowledge served her well in her role as Counsel in a large bonds dispute determined by an eminent panel of international arbitrators.

Sitpah has earned a commendable reputation in the fields of Maritime Law and Corporate Insolvency. She is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and has been appointed as arbitrator in shipping and commercial disputes. Sitpah has been featured in successive editions of The Asia Pacific Legal 500 since 2005 and described in its 2007/2008 publication as“…the brilliant Sitpah Selvaratnam”. She was also singled out by Shipping & Transport International, published in London in 2008, as a significant maritime personality.

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